I have an new post up at Global Comment
From the moment we hear our child’s first cry, we are immediately encouraged to perform the role of long-suffering, ever-vigilant, hyper-nurturing and self-sacrificing mother. It begins with the breast or bottle debate and doesn’t end until we are put to rest. Each decision we make is put under a microscope and analyzed to see if it fits with the social construction of motherhood.
Instead of bonding over our common struggles, women often take the opportunity to rip each other apart. A school of piranhas can sometimes be more friendly than a group of mothers engaged in a “more motherly than thou” contest. We seek to find fault with someone else’s behaviour in the hope that the little mistakes and regrets that we make on this journey are somehow not so bad.
One would never realize that the first Sunday in May is for honouring mothers from watching the commercials that have been airing on television. Like every other supposed holiday it has been turned into a great consumer fest:
The greeting card, jewellery and flower industry go into over drive as they try to convince everyone that the best way to honour their mothers is to buy a card filled with words written by others, or flowers that will die in a week. The various industries play on your emotions, reminding you of all of the sacrifices that mothers make throughout the year to convince you that buying their item will be the strongest expression of appreciation and love that you can make
Meanwhile, now that the weather is getting warmer and park season has started, the community gathering and public shaming of motherhood has once again begun. How many times have we sat in the park and the conversation turns to how some woman isn’t watching her kids closely enough, or the kid with the grape juice stain on their shirt becomes representative of the various ways in which his mother is failing? A smudge on the cheek or some dirt under the fingernails can be enough to get you permanently labelled the neighbourhood slacker. It can make you scared to leave the park bench that you are sharing with these women as you know the minute you stand up, they’ll be gossiping about the fact that it’s been six months since you’ve had your second child and you are still carrying around the baby weight