Two weeks ago I promised myself I wouldn’t blog till I finished the current draft of my novel. I’ve tried really hard to push this blog piece down but it keeps resurfacing in my mind, tormenting me, and so I realised the only way to get back to finishing my novel is to write the damn piece. I know that by writing this piece I am, in a way, shooting myself in the foot. But I became a writer to write so that’s what I’m doing.
Mother’s Day was the final straw. I didn’t feel like celebrating at all, and I’m a mother. I was outraged by the concept of ‘Mother’s Day’. Putting aside the obvious idea that it’s a marketing and money-making scheme, our society has allocated one day to celebrate mothers yet for the other 364 days a year we get the complete opposite. We are branded as whiny, selfish, brushed aside when we strive for success in our careers and we’re cut no slack at all.
What’s worse about ‘Mother’s Day’ is the expectation to do something special for mum with the family, like go out to lunch, make her breakfast or hang around her, when that’s what happens every other day. I did do the lunch, and the pressies, but deep down what I really wanted was to have a day for me, alone. When I mentioned my thoughts to a member of my extended family, I got ‘how selfish’ thrown back in my face, and ‘mother’s day is about family’. As mothers, society expects us to sacrifice who we are as individuals for the sake of our children and when we strive to keep our individuality we are branded as selfish.
The workplace doesn’t embrace mothers. It doesn’t help mothers advance their careers while they struggle to maintain a work–life balance. I posted a piece about motherhood on Overland earlier this year, detailing an experience I had with a residency I enquired about, where I was told my daughter and partner could visit me on the weekends during a four-week residency. A few weeks later their website posted ‘no children or pets allowed’. When I corresponded with the director about this, he said he would get back to me but never did. Since posting the article, I have still received nothing. It is an utter disappointment that a state writers’ centre not only doesn’t support writing mothers but also ignores them. Hopefully the new head of the Victorian Writers’ Centre can address this issue, because being a mother is an important part of life that should be explored in literature. We should be encouraging this, not suppressing it.
To me, society seems to have forgotten that if it weren’t for mothers, there’d be no human population. Our society is completely built against the mother and for the singleton. ‘Mother’s Day’ is an absolute insult. Society should focus on the other 364 days a year and maybe then there’ll be something worth celebrating.
Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.
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