May 06, 2011 Features & Images » Feature Story

Moms are all right 

Mother's Day in the age of guilt

When you think about it, Mother's Day shouldn't have to exist. Mothers should feel appreciated every day for their hard work and sacrifices, for taking on the most thankless volunteer job on the planet with the most demanding of bosses. A day could never cover it, no matter how delicious the breakfast in bed, how nice the flowers and cards, how relaxing that one hour trip to the spa.

I never properly appreciated everything my mother did for me until I had a child of my own, witnessing the so-called "miracle" of childbirth firsthand, the 3 a.m. feeds, the trials and tribulations of caring for a newborn/toddler/infant/child from morning to night (and sometimes from night until morning).

Because we're a modern family with both parents working opposite shifts to pay the bills, I've also had to be a little bit of a mother myself since my daughter was born. As much as I do, I know that it could never be equal. I have no scars from the birth.  I didn't have to breast-feed. I didn't have to leave a job I liked. Even now, when three-year-old Elly falls over, she still wants her mom - probably because she needs hugs and sympathy, a female specialty, as opposed to the male approach that generally involves sucking it up, getting back on your feet and being more careful next time.

Most importantly, I also don't have to deal with the cult of motherhood that's making it so hard to be a mom these days, with all the conflicting advice and all the guilt that's shovelled onto the bent backs of mothers that are really doing the best they can.

At Pique , we originally talked about doing a Mother's Day story about Whistler's super moms, those amazing women who have three kids, run businesses, volunteer for boards and non-profits and still manage to run marathons on the side. They do exist. And they're super. But the reality is that most moms are having a good day if they can find five minutes for themselves.

And yet, despite the love and sacrifice, many moms will go to bed feeling guilty tonight, like they haven't done enough for their children or their families.

Part of it has to do with super moms - every mother knows another mother who makes it look easy, or has a kid who's a total prodigy that they feel they have to measure up to. But a lot of the pressure and guilt comes from modern culture, ironically-named "self-help" books, well-meaning but often conflicting advice and our own experiences as children that we do our best to replicate even though it's a very different world out there.

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