I know I am going to take it on the chin for this one…but so be it.
I serve as 2nd counselor in the bishopric of my ward in Thatcher, AZ. Our bishopric has been in now for just over four years and so we just experienced our fifth Mother’s Day. I love my wife and I love my mother and I have no problem taking a day to appreciate all that mothers do for their families. But as with all good things in this world, even the greatest traditions need a review now and then to make sure they are operating in the most effective way. I think we have arrived at this place with regard to Mother’s Day. My reasoning? Well…
1. Every ward I know of gives away something to every adult female in their congregation. I have no problem with this. But over the last few years, I have heard some grumblings. (Not all of these are necessarily from my ward. In fact, most are not.) Some folks are upset if they don’t get chocolate. Some are upset if they do get chocolate because what are we suggesting? That all women should eat sweets and get fat? Or if we give out potted flowers that can be planted. Why did they do that? We live in Arizona. They are just going to die anyway? Why did they give me a single carnation? Now I have to carry this around all day while trying to get to get my kids to class…
How about we give the mothers in our ward the exact same thing we give our fathers on Father’s Day. BIG FAT NOTHING!!! It’s a free gift of appreciation for heaven’s sake, not an annual bonus.
Now again, I want to emphasize that the grumbling I have heard comes from a small minority. But isn’t that the way this always works? The small minority makes all the noise. Nevertheless, the grumbling is out there.
2. There is a notion that exists that no woman should have to speak in church on Mother’s Day. There is also the feeling among some that Mother’s Day is the worst Sunday of the year for women because every woman in the ward has to sit there and listen to somebody talk about their perfect mother. In comparison, they always feel like they come up short. It can be depressing. Well, can we think through this for a moment.
Little boys love their mothers. When those little boys grow up, they still love their mothers and are very protective of them. Aren’t some of the biggest struggles in many marriages born out of the comparison a man makes between his wife and his mother? So with that in mind, doesn’t it seem silly to say that only men should speak on Mother’s Day? Because what are they going to talk about? Ummm… their perfect mother! I’m just saying, ladies. You might want to rethink the adult female speaking ban.
3. Let’s review the history of Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day was established in 1917. It would be another fifty years before Father’s Day would be officially recognized. Many of the traditions surrounding Mother’s Day were formed in a time when Father’s provided and Mother’s nurtured. In other words, men didn’t do jack at home. It would make sense then, that under those circumstances, it would be a good thing for a man to take on all the responsibilities that were expected of a mother so that every man could be reminded of all the things he was lucky he didn’t have to do on a daily basis. Meanwhile, to give fathers a day to recline in their chair and take a nap, watch sports or just laze around in general was…probably not that different from most other Sundays.
But times have changed. The responsibilities have blurred. If I were to tell my wife that I was the man of the house and therefore I don’t do diapers, don’t fold laundry and most especially never clean the kitchen, I would quickly become the man outside of the house. On the flip side, many mothers now find themselves in the work place and sharing the responsibility of providing for the family. Yet, the traditional ways of celebrating both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day remain fixed.
Maybe for women everywhere, this is fine. Maybe they are happy with the way we approach Mother’s Day. I certainly don’t have a problem with it. I’m happy to continue with things as they are. But can we please stop with the sanctimonious pap about how much women do and men don’t do. (This sanctimonious pap as I call it has never come from my wife. I want that firmly established in the record.) It’s getting old. Most couples I know are attacking the day to day of life and surviving any way they can. When one needs help, they look to the other and are able to expect their partner to be there picking up the slack regardless of whether it is a “man’s responsibility” or “women’s work.”
Now, I’m sure that many will see my rant as anti-female or mysogynistic in some way. I don’t mean it to be. But at the same time, I do have a couple of issues.
As with any kind of type of recognition, I worry we have reached the stage where we have crossed from gratitude to expectation. When a gift is met with, “Why didn’t…” or a request is met with, “I’m a woman and I shouldn’t have to…” I believe something is wrong. I’m not trying to pick on anybody, because this is not an individual thing. This is the expectation I hear the world over.
Also, I’m sorry, but not every man is a worthless lump who is barely hanging on thanks to the herculean efforts of a woman. My wife will do some very nice things to recognize me in five weeks, but society at large? We just went through a massive advertising campaign of, “Shower her with gifts. Get her expensive jewelry. Let her know how much you truly care.” On Father’s Day, pay attention. It will be, “Let dad know he isn’t too bad of a schlub after all. Get him some socks and a card.” End of story. (The obvious exception will be the advertisers for all camping, hunting, fishing and other mancentric retailers, but they will be drowned out by the majority.)
There is a good chance I will regret this post, but, oh well. After five years of trying to please people besides my wife on Mother’s Day, I’m not sure I care anymore.
There is no way to tie this to THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, and I’m not sure I would want to anyway. But to anyone coming upon this website for the first time, look for my debut novel, THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER to arrive in bookstores on August 13. It is available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking here. Please rest assured that my views on Mother’s Day and gender roles in general are not topics in the book.