I hate Hallmark holidays. They suck. My husband and I never observe Valentine’s day, which, if you listen to our respective co-workers and friends, makes him an insensitive cad and me just barely this side of battered. I say fuck ’em. He brings me bouquets of roses and tabasco-spiced Slim Jims for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHATSOEVER, which beats the hell out of getting an obligatory dozen flowers because sitcoms say if he doesn’t buy this, on that day, he’ll never get laid again.
Which brings us to Mother’s Day. I’m seriously debating on whether or not we’re going to make this an observed “holiday” in our household. I remember that when I was a kid, it made my mom happy as hell, but then again, so does “Judging Amy”, so what kind of standard is that, really?
But anyway, the encroaching holiday and its attendant media attention got me thinking…
No one comes out and says “Good job!” to responsible, average mothers. There are no sappy human interest features in the newspapers as May draws closer about intelligent women who practice birth control and family planning. You don’t see “Dateline” specials about stay-at-home mothers who wait until they’re in a stable relationship/marriage/civil union/covenant before they breed. The reproductively responsible get no good press, and that’s a damn shame.
Yeah, I know it’s hard to be a single mom, or a teenage mom, or a 47-year-old mother of quintuplets. In the weeks after my daughter was born, while my husband (who had taken vacation time to take care of us) was literally waiting on me hand and foot, I remember being in utter AWE of anyone who could do this without a partner or support system. I had all the advantages in the world — a loving husband willing to work his ass off so that I could devote myself to being a mother, a wonderful family support system, an easy pregnancy, a perfect, healthy baby — yet I was barely coping. Anyone doing this on their own was, I decided, a hell of a lot more woman than I. That being said, this particular rant is not about them.
It’s about the rest of us. It’s about the women who use condoms and take birth control, or just don’t cat around. It’s about (dare I say it?) moms who decide that it’s just about the greatest job title going, and realize rearing children to be happy, healthy, and sane is a career in and of itself. Why doesn’t anybody ever give them a pat on the back?
I know, because it doesn’t make good headlines. Nobody ever stuck around after the weather to hear about a happy, stable mother of three who’s been married for ten years. No edgy books have ever been lauded for their haunting portrayal of a woman who sacraficed her career for her family and is happy about it.
Well, to hell with that. This Mother’s Day, I’m extending a heartfelt “Thank You” to all the cookie-bakers, the homeschoolers, the “deplorably domestic”. Yes, I am most certainly, and most egotistically, extending that to myself. I may have fucked a lot of things up in my life until recently, but my genetic immortality was not one of them. I am prouder of that than of almost anything else I’ve ever done. Although I feel compassion towards those who have had children out of wedlock (or stable partnership, as the case will have to be for a lot of good parents in Kansas now), and admire the hell out of them for being able to raise a kid in those circumstances, I don’t think that I should be ashamed of saying that I’m proud that I’m not one of them. Nor do I think I should have to be ashamed to say that I would rather stay at home and raise my child than have a career, or pursue an artistic vision, or whatever. I refuse to be a stay-at-home apologist, but that’s another rant entirely.
So here’s to responsibility, and good choices, and good mothers. Here’s to the moms who will never get any sympathy for being so sleep deprived they could cry at 3:30 in the morning, because they don’t have to work the next day and can’t pass the baby off to their husbands because he does. Here’s to the mothers who will never be interviewed for a feature article about their two well-adjusted children, steadily-employed husband, and house in the suburbs. Here’s to the rockin’ mamas who had children at 26, and not 16, and then had 2 kids, and not 12. The birth rate for industrialized nations has been steadily dropping and is now well below replacement levels, so there has to be a lot of us, right? Well, dammit, be proud of it. You did good, and so did I.
Happy Mother’s Day.