“Another year of this shit!?!” a friend messaged me.
The target of her ire was Australia Post Mother’s Day catalogue. The catalogue is best read as a historical document; a little time capsule that permits us to peer into Australian motherhood of yesteryear.
Readers can marvel at the Hurricane Spin scrubber that “power[s] though dirt, grime, mould, calcium and water stains like never before”. But if you happen to be one of those difficult women who doesn’t delight in scrubbing your tile grouting, then there’s always the Metallic Doggy Doorstop or Bloom drawer liners.
Nothing says “thanks of all those times you nursed me though gastro” like a drawer liner.
The gift selections don’t get much better beyond the Australia Post shop. Each year we are spoiled with an array of gift options such as exercise DVDs (because you could stand to lose a few kilos), cookbooks (because you need more reasons to spend time in the kitchen), epilators (because your body is gross and hideous in its natural state), Andre Rieu CDs (because your aesthetic sense got pushed out with your placenta) and domestic appliances (because your family hates you).
One of my friends was given a potato peeler as her first ever Mother’s Day present. I kid you not. Thanks for the nine months of morning sickness and the 23 hours of labour and the seven stitches – now where’s that salad?
And let’s face it, nothing says you-were-a-complete-afterthought-and-the-florist-was-the-only-thing-open-on-Sunday-morning than a bunch of chrysanthemums.
Full disclosure, I haven’t always been so negative about the crappy selection of Mother’s Day gifts. When I first became a mother and I realised just how damn hard it was, I felt like I deserved that fluffy pink gift, no matter how lame it was.
But as the years ticked by and the inequalities that mothers experience mount up, Mother’s Day started to feel like a really bad deal for women. It’s like getting a Christmas present from a boss who has been underpaying you all year. And then you’re expected to feel grateful.
Mothers carry the unfair burden of domestic work and family care, there’s a good chance you’ll be “restructured” out of the workforce when you announce your pregnancy, you’ll find it difficult, if not impossible, to get back into the workforce, but if you do, then you’re on your own with arranging and paying for childcare.
You’ll be earning less on your mummy track, accruing hardly any super, and if you’re a single mum or your husband leaves you later in life, you could spend your twilight years living out of your car.
For one day a year everyone’s going to praise and honour us – every other day they’re going to blame us for all of society’s problems.
And did we mention what a pack of bitches you all are, bickering and sledging in your mummy war?
For many women, Mother’s Day is just more work. As one of my friends posted on Facebook last year: “Mother’s Day is the day you don’t do everything you normally do in a day and leaves you with twice as much to do the next day!!”
To earn their “day off” on Mother’s Day, many mothers are staying up to midnight preparing for it, and then spend all day the next day cleaning up after it.
I know we can’t call off Mother’s Day. How else will retailers know we still love them in the slow weeks between Easter and the end of financial year sales?
But it really is time to reform it. We need to stop using Mother’s Day to reinforce the idea that good mothers are totally self-sacrificing and the greatest joy in our lives is to put everyone else’s needs before our own. And enough with the cleaning appliances. I’m looking at you, Australia Post.
If you really want to show mothers how much they are loved and valued this Mother’s Day then do the dishes, vacuum the floor and give her some genuine leisure time. And keep doing it for the next 364 days.
This article first appeared on Daily Life