The Mother's Day Report Card Isn't Great
You had one job. Ahead of Sunday, moms joined hands across the nation to ask the partners to do something for Mother's Day, anything. Amid a wider discussion of the mental load women carry in households, and of the power of simply acknowledging their work, moms were hoping to not have to make any decisions, and to get a little bit of recognition. Well, the Monday morning post-game is in, and unfortunately, it seems many men didn't get the memo.
One mom told me her husband completely forgot. In fact, not did only he forget, but he napped on the couch for the majority of the day. Another mom said her husband didn’t do much of anything because he believes “you’re not my mom after all,” even though she is the mother of his three kids. So, safe to assume no card from that prize chicken. Another mom got some money in a card, but her kids didn’t seem to get what the day meant. The disconnect is visible across Twitter, too. Men who perhaps did scrawl out a note for their own mothers didn't acknowledge their partners.
"My 11yo drew me pictures I practically had to beg for," tweeted user Jeanette of her Mother's Day haul. "Altho hubs did nothing special he did make dinner & do the dishes."
This disappointment is nothing new. "Mother's Day ended my marriage" claims a 2011 forum on Phorum, while multiple board on BabyCenter ask the hive whether it's reasonable to be upset that their husband did nothing for Mother's Day. "Mother's Day Card Mailed" went an Onion headline from Monday, May 13.
When my husband asked how I wanted to spend my day, I said I didn't care one bit as long as it involved me not making a single decision at all. Talking to friends and reading up on social media, I discovered I wasn't that much different than anybody else. Moms are on 24/7, and apparently all we want is to be off for one day.
Though I wouldn't trade being a mother for anything in the world, moms seem inundated with decision-making. So much decision-making that it's kind of like an extra job. Knowing which kid has outgrown what clothing and who needs to wear what for summer camp, what meals we're eating for breakfast/lunch/dinner (times seven!), who needs to go to what doctor and when, did we remember to send Aunt Susie a birthday card, can we find a plumber, and don't forget to pick a restaurant for date night.
Being a mom is a blessing, and it's par for the course that having kids brings a whole lot more responsibility (pretty sick of hearing that raising kids is a lot of "work"). But it means we can't shut off or press pause because the unseen duties of motherhood may not get done. If more and more women are asking for a day off on a day when we should actually be celebrating how lucky we are to be able to be a mom, then maybe we all just need a little more help with the duties of parenthood.
And maybe we're just too hard to please, too intent on having other people read our minds. Take this disappointed Home Depot shopper:
When I returned home from a morning workout on Mother's Day, my husband and daughter had decorated the house with little love notes wherever I looked. In the fridge, "We'd never find anything without you." On the bathroom mirror, "You do the best mommying of all the moms."
The baby was playing with chew toys on the floor, but everyone was psyched to see me as I walked into our dining room for what my daughter referred to as a "Fancy Nancy" breakfast for Mommy Day. It wasn't much of anything, in fact, it cost no money at all, but the sentiments were long-lasting. I spent the rest of the day, not one twinkle toe of mine inside the kitchen, and my husband took care of all that unseen work moms do without thinking.
Perhaps the flaw is in the idea that giving moms "one day off" will solve anything. Perhaps it is that we need a wider shift to take place.
Because if we really want a female president and more women CEOs, we might need more dads to step up and appreciate all the women in their lives first and foremost. The peek inside of America’s houses that Mother’s Day reactions afford us are useful for understanding where women stand in the world today. One women who complained about her nonexistent Mother’s Day said “I basically consider my husband nothing more than a paycheck some days. He doesn’t contribute to the family beyond going to work.”
To be fair, I don’t think all dads are failing on Mother’s Day. As a mother it’s heartbreaking to hear that some moms aren’t appreciated for all they do. Because if there is one thing about being a mom it’s that we’re all together as one. Maybe what we need more than a bouquet of flowers and profound sentiments is for our partners — and for all the men in the country — to understand what we do.