Monday, March 01, 2004

On the Mommy Myths

It's very hard to be a good mother. In fact, it's impossible, because a good mother is defined as some sort of an unattainable combination of a PhD psychologist, the Virgin Mary, Buddha and a child-centered automaton. This is the reason why all mothers are bent over under a terrible burden of guilt and why the so-called mummy wars rage unabated. Mothering is the only human task that I know of which is defined as well done only when performed by saints.

If we used the same rigor and strictness in our demands for performance from politicians, athletes, entertainers and ordinary workers, everybody in this country would down antidepressants by the fistful. But luckily for most of us, it's only the mothers that are held to such impossible standards. This is very convenient as there is always someone to blame when things go wrong: the Mother, who was either too absent and selfish or too clinging and demanding, who fed you the wrong things or didn't take you to the right enriching hobbies, who went out to work or who never got a life and therefore burdened you with guilt. No need to blame the fates or destiny: there is a real live scapegoat for all of our sins.

Even the praise mothers get is a back-handed compliment: a Mother's Day card with verses about the perfect ever-sacrificing mother, a creature of no known resemblance in the real world, can only fan the flames of mother-guilt. And though it's wonderful to be congratulated on ones child having turned out a success, who really believes that any one human being could so totally mold another one? Besides, what does this say about all the people who didn't turn out so very adorable? That they had bad mothers, that's what.

The reason for this rant is a really good post on the mommy myths I just read on One Good Thing. Do read it if you think that my view is biased by the divine angle.