Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Enough With the Mommy Guilt

I just read an article about the current marketing campaign by Suave, in which a woman is shown going through the stages of being a young, attractive woman, then having kids and slowly morphing into a spit-up smelling, wrinkled-clothes wearing, unhappy lump of a person. Then, of course, she uses Suave and is attractive and happy again. The writer of the article chastized Suave for exploiting mommy-guilt to sell their products, and argued that glamorous haircare isn't necessarily at the top of a mother's to-do list.

And then I read the comments from women (and men) listing off all of the roles women play as mothers, and how we should all just be glad that they don't hit us in the face with a frying pan for not worshipping at their feet for the sole reason that they gave birth.

My response - you signed up for this.

I am a mother, albeit to only one child who is pretty easy to take care of. And, I have a A+ husband who shares household chores and parenting responsibilities pretty equally and with enthusiasm. I work full-time and manage to keep the house relatively clean, wear clean and presentable clothes, cook healthy meals, run errands, maintain friendships, date my husband, and exercise daily. And I don't feel like society owes me any pity for this.

People call being a mother the hardest job on earth, and I can see why. It is a 24/7 all-hands-on-deck position with little vacation, no sick leave, and payment in the form of the occasional "please" or "thank you, mommy." I just don't feel the need to lord it over everyone about how hard I work as a mother. I asked to become a mother, and I knew it would be hard. Sure, I enjoyed my Mother's Day breakfast and basked in the appreciation of my son and husband, but I don't expect to be worshipped because I am a mother. I expect to be worshipped because I am awesome. LOL

Many mothers love to list off all of the hats they wear in their families. As one commenter on the article wrote: "cook, pastry chef, maid, taxi-cab driver, author, disciplinarian, friend, laundress, pet groomer/caregiver, professional grocery planner and shopper, party planner, gift purchaser (birthday parties, christmas, anniversaries, etc.), volunteer (at school event or otherwise), counselor, nurse/physician (primary care and ER services), vehicle cleaner(inside and out), editor, teacher (all subjects and specialties), financial analyst, college planner and financier..." Here's the thing - you don't have to do all of those things. There is a good chance that your family would survive - possibly thrive - if you just got out of the way a little bit.

What I'm trying to say is, I don't feel bad for you. Seriously. If you are filling all of those roles for your family, what is everyone else doing? Feeding a cat and scooping a litter box does not make you a pet groomer/caregiver. It makes you an adult. Shopping for gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas does not make you a personal shopper. It makes you an adult. Stopping at the gas station to vacuum out your car for 10 minutes does not make you a vehicle cleaner. It makes you an adult.

If you don't want to do these things, get rid of the cat, disown your family, and live with a dirty car. But don't make the rest of us feel bad because you can't get your act together.

Want to talk about the double standard regarding societal pressure for moms to look like supermodels while dads can let themselves go? I'm right there with you. Want to vent about there not being enough time in the day to get it all done and still get enough sleep to get up and do it the next day? Sing it, sister. Just stop with the guilt.

It really isn't making me feel bad.


Sghoul said...

I agree with this here rant.

Thing is, most people wear tons of hats. Unless you are rich, you have to. I actually DO groom my dog (hair cuts and all), but I don't consider myself a groomer. Just someone who has a pet.

Now, for MY rant, I think part of the reason mothers are looked at more than fathers is because mothers CHOOSE to take on so much responsibility. Or they marry some loser whom they don't trust to do anything. If you don't want to be stressed, don't take on so many tasks. And more so, don't have a kid.

EDP said...

Yep. Nothing is more boring than listening to a room full of moms complain about how hard it is to raise kids. It IS hard, but it is also voluntary. Ask for help if you need it. If you can swing it, hire a cleaning person to come in every other week. Let your husband fold the laundry without standing over him and berating him for not doing it right. And if he's not doing ANYTHING without being asked, um, youv'e got bigger problems than being busy.

H F said...

I KNEW you guys would back me up on this one! :)

pink said...

My sister (mother of two) and I (I only have one great son too) were just fussing about this very thing this past weekend. My sis was saying that she totally didn't relate w/ the mom's in her daughters' first grade class because all they do is talk and fuss about how busy they are . . .AS STAY AT HOME MOMS. I think moms who use the "guilt trip for sympathy" actually use it to excuse their irresponsibility at other things. And I agree, if the mom feels like she has to do more than she really can to make her family function, then family counseling is neeeded. An "oh, poor mom, you deserve a break" won't really help things.