Do mothers matter?

Do mothers matter?

It’s hard to talk about mothers without getting maudlin. When the therapist says “mother,” we start thinking of warm cookies, hot soup, and tender bedtime moments. Birthday parties with cake and balloons. Kisses and Band-Aids for when we fall down. The Motherhood Montage signifies nothing less than lifelong, unconditional love combined with attentive, day-in-day-out personal service from infancy through established adulthood. No pressure, moms.

It’s hard sometimes to celebrate the wonderfully ordinary. In childhood, I remember my mother getting irritated each year by the local paper’s coverage of Mother’s Day. They always felt a need to find a “non-traditional” maternal figure to celebrate. Each May we got bright, happy features on unwed Murphy-Brown-type professionals who were doing it on their own, or on the heroic, childless woman who had volunteered hundreds of hours to the Girl Scouts, the “daughters she never had.” We apparently weren’t permitted to celebrate women who just got married, conceived and bore tiny new humans, and then raised them to adulthood. How boring and plebeian was that?…

Funny thing, though. In today’s world, it’s becoming audacious (even offensive!) to suggest that a child should have a mother. Another Mother’s Day is upon us, and the brunches will go on as usual, but a glance through your news feed will tell a different story: motherhood is besieged on a broader cultural level.

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