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This Mother's Day Poem Pissed Me Off!

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Jennifer Ginsberg: For Mother's Day, my 5-year-old son presented me with a beautiful, handpainted butterfly magnet that he had made for me in preschool. Along with the gift was a card with a photocopied poem inside that read:

furious woman

Real mothers don't eat quiche;
they don't have time to make it.

Real mothers know that dried Play-Doh
doesn't come out of carpets.

Real mothers don't want to know what
the vacuum just sucked up ....

Real mothers often have sticky floors and
filthy ovens but ...

They have happy kids.

How shall I count the ways that this poem insulted me?

First of all, I love to cook and I'm quite good at it. While quiche is not my speciality, I have the time to prepare delicious, healthy meals for myself and my children. It's something that brings pleasure to me and my family. I love it when my toddler asks to help me, as she shakes seasoning all over salmon fillets and cuts cucumbers into tiny shapes. It also brings me joy when my son sets the table and attempts to fold the napkins into triangle hats.

However, according to the poem, if you have the time to cook, you are a bad mom and neglecting your kids. Extra points if you feed them processed crap full of chemicals. All along, I thought I was teaching my kids the importance of good nutrition. By involving them in the process of cooking, I even thought they were having fun!

But apparently "real" mothers are too busy to cook. Doing what? I'm not certain. Because according to this poem, "real" mothers aren't allowed to clean their homes, either!

According to this poem, I've also committed a maternal sin by teaching my children that it is not OK to grind Play-Doh into my carpet. Ironically, this exact thing happened a few months ago. My children were playing with Play-Doh in my living room. My son had the brilliant idea to make Play-Doh pancakes, and proceeded to violently stomp on the neon-pink goop -- on my expensive wool rug.

Maybe someone should call Child Protective Services, because his consequence was that he had to help me painstakingly remove the Play-Doh from the rug, crumb by crumb.

I also explained to him that if this ever happened again, Play-Doh would be permanently removed from his life, and there was a good chance that SpongeBob and Skittles would disappear, too!

I am pleased to report that this hasn't recurred, but according to the poem, it's actually a virtue to have Play-Doh ground into the carpet. I suspect the mom who wrote this asinine poem also lets her children draw on her walls and piss in her garden!

Lastly, according to the poem, if my house is a filthy mess, I am a "real" mother. If my vacuum cleaner is constantly needing to be replaced from sucking up little made-in-China plastic toy pieces and my kitchen floor has barf on it, I am a Mommy Rock Star!

Again, I must be a "fake" mom, because my children have to put their toys away when they're done playing with them. Also, when something spills, the person responsible for the spill must clean it up -- accident or not. And (gasp, gasp!) my 3-year-old daughter puts away her clothes in the hamper and my son makes his bed!

All along, I thought I was teaching my children important life skills like responsibility and discipline, but according to my Mother's Day poem, a "real" mother lives in a pigsty where her piglets are allowed to not only run, but destroy, the farm. And if her reaction is anything but, "Oh, how cute that Jakey took a piss on my calla lilies!" or "Look at the gorgeous rainbow that Emma drew on the wall in our den!", then she's a nasty bitch who lacks perspective and her unhappy children are being creatively stunted.

So to all the "fake" mothers out there who have the time to cook and value order and cleanliness in your lives: I hope you had a happy Mother's Day.

And to the "real" moms -- whose feet stick to the kitchen floor, whose houses look like Romper Room, who subsist on McDonalds and frozen dinners -- I hope you enjoyed your day, too.

But I also hope that you went to the spa for at least an hour to escape from the filth and chaos of your home, and that you had the time to eat something delicious and fresh with pronounceable ingredients!


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80 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lissa May 10, 2010, 11:46 AM

Obviously you have something going on in your life that is upsetting you.It was just a dumb poem that someone thought would be cute, but not realistic. I work 40 hours a week and cook when I can and yes my home is clean. And I hope you had a good Mothers Day, and a clean house too.

Anonymous May 10, 2010, 11:47 AM

Obviously you have something going on in your life that is upsetting you.
It was just a dumb poem that someone thought would be cute, but not realistic. I work 40 hours a week and cook when I can and yes my home is clean. And I hope you had a good Mothers Day, and a clean house too.

Rebecca May 10, 2010, 12:01 PM

Wow someone has MOMMY issues. The poem was cute. It didn’t say if you did the things in the poem you were a BAD mom it just said that it is ok if you don’t do those things. By the way I have 5 kids and I cook every morning and night plus make their lunches for school.So sometimes my floor is sticky and no I didn’t get a massage on Momthers Day to escape it.I spent it in the backyard fishing with my kids. RELAX

Janet May 10, 2010, 12:04 PM

I don’t know who wrote this poem or why, but it reflects a reaction to the harsh judgments made by and about our fellow moms whose lifestyles and priorities don’t match our own. The very women who should support us when we’re most vulnerable are also the ones who cut us to the quick. We’re all “real” moms and most of us are just trying to do the best job we can, even if we don’t do it the way everybody else says we should. Maintain your standards but don’t expect anyone else to live up to them.

Beth May 10, 2010, 12:10 PM

I agree with above…RELAX. It’s just a poem that was meant to be a cute gesture. Misguided? Maybe. But still just a poem - not a thorough analysis of your personal Mom qualifications. I have playdoh stuck in my carpet too…and it bothers me, a lot. Big deal.

Milady May 10, 2010, 12:12 PM

The whole purpose of the poem, super-sensitive, neuro-mama, is to say that people who may not be as THOROUGH as you are mothers too. We applaud your perfect life and your well-disciplined children, but let’s consider alternatives. If you were a single woman with 2 jobs, would you be less of a mother? Not everyone is available to make Betty Crocker or Donna Reed look slouchy, but love their children yet and still. One of the best parts of being a mother is being resillient-being able to take it on the chin and live. That’s what the poem is about. Now get over yourself.

Kay May 10, 2010, 12:31 PM

I feel sorry for your kids. You obviously don’t know how to let a kid be a kid. No ones house is spotless that love their children and want them to grow up with a healthy mentality as well as being healthy physically. To make your kids worry about adult things that you should be doing. Get a grip please.

camille petrocelli May 10, 2010, 12:37 PM

i thought it was cute and shouldn’t have been taken so seriously.
my kids are grown now and they always brought poems and question & answers things home at mother’s day…saved them and handed them over when they had kids…we laughed at the things they said, now they get the same from their kids and we crack up! be happy the teachers took time to do this with your young ones…they grow up fast and life really is too short…going to bake something now…bye

black iris May 10, 2010, 12:41 PM

Well, I guess this is a good example of why a photocopied poem isn’t the right way to go. It won’t fit everyone.

Blake May 10, 2010, 1:00 PM

RELAX LADY! It’s just a poem! I guess we can’t all be as perfect as you!

Michelle May 10, 2010, 1:00 PM

Wow, don’t bash the Mom for having an opinion!!

The truth is there is not one “right” style of parenting. I happen to agree with Jennifer. I love to cook, have a clean house and involve my children in the process.

The real issue here is that the “teacher” should have let the kids come up with their own ideas of what a mother is and put it on the butterfly. THAT would have been sweet and memorable. If you are going to present your own idea of what a mother is, of course someone will be offended! We are all unique.

Linn May 10, 2010, 1:23 PM

I saw this poem elsewhere a few weeks ago and forwarded it on to all of my mom friends. They all loved it and were relieved to read it. There is so much unspoken pressure on moms these days to do it all. We can’t do it all and if we try to our kids will miss out on so much.

Lori May 10, 2010, 1:57 PM

I’m offended that the author thinks those of us who aren’t like her must live in chaos and filth.
Parenting isn’t one size fits all, and we’re all doing our best to raise happy healthy children.


Like Beth, I also have Play-Doh ground into my carpet. It makes me want a new carpet! -Which isn’t expensive wool, by the way. Maybe the fact that I don’t have expensive things makes me a bad mom too.


-Most of the above is tongue-in-cheek. I’m not as easily offended as the author. I have more important things to worry about. I just hope she realizes she’s worse than the author of that poem with her judgmental words.

moi May 10, 2010, 2:03 PM

I guess I’m one that was more insulted by the response to the poem than to the poem itself. We eat real food, but really complicated recipes are a rarity in our house. We (try to, she’s still young) make our daughter pick up after herself, but the toys we just picked up are scattered around my living room again. Playdo is relegated to certain areas of the house and juice is kept at the table, and yet my floors are sticky and I still occasionally find playdo someplace it doesn’t belong. And my oven is definitely not clean.

I do the best I can, and I often feel like I come up short because I don’t make the fancy quiche or I miss some playdo, or I accidently vacuum up *another* lego. And yet my daughter is happy and healthy because these things don’t matter in the long run. That was what I think this editorial missed. That we may think we come up short for not doing something but really we end up ahead because we got that extra time with our kids laughing over the funny noise the vacuum just made.

Lisa R. May 10, 2010, 2:03 PM

Seems Ms. Ginsberg over-reacted to the poem. Maybe it is because she’s so stressed from making sure her house is spotless, her children pick up after themselves, & every meal is healthy & nutritious. I’d be grumpy, too. What I didn’t know is that I’ve been doing it right all along! I cook when I can, clean when I can, and deal with as it comes. Sure, I wish my house was cleaner, but what can you do? I have other stuff going on, too. You have to be flexible.

Milady, what you said was beautifully put! Well done!

TwinHappyJen May 10, 2010, 2:07 PM

If my girls (who are also 5 years old) said such mean and hurtful things to another person (much less an entire internet full of people), I would make them apologize. Not that they would even think of doing such a thing… they’re much too kind and happy to even consider insulting anyone.

The photocopied poem wasn’t telling you that you were a bad mother. It was saying that, even if you don’t have a spotless home or time to make gourmet meals every day (although, bully to you if you do), you’re still a good mother, as long as you have happy kids.

Your kids are happy, right? I didn’t see a mention of that in your post… but, maybe I just missed it. Perhaps it was somewhere in the four paragraphs where you were discussing your expensive wool rug and all the ways your son would be punished if he came anywhere near it again with a crumb of Play-Doh?

Sorry, that was mean and judgmental… I apologize.

Anonymous May 10, 2010, 3:40 PM

GET OVER IT!!

Anonymous May 10, 2010, 3:47 PM

I cook, refuse to have playdough in my carpet and make my kids clean up too. But if I saw this poem, I would still think it’s cute. Lighten up. They were just trying to make the harried, non perfect world of mothering seem ok despite what end of the spectrum you are on. It’s not a big deal at all. Get over it.

mmarie May 10, 2010, 4:25 PM

“Extra points if you feed them processed crap full of chemicals. “

Like the Skittles you warned your son you’d take away from him?

Michael B. May 10, 2010, 7:56 PM

It’s interesting to see how different men and women are. Most men would think article is very funny. Most women are so sensitive and personalize everything. Seriously, is the best response anyone can have to this article be a personal attack on the author?

And then there’s the comments like Lori’s - which makes no sense. First she says “I’m offended that the author thinks those of us who aren’t like her must live in chaos and filth.” Then, she says “I’m not as easily offended as the author. I have more important things to worry about.”

So, either you’re not easily offended or you are. Anyone who is “so offended” by the authors words can’t say she’s “not easily offended”.

Finally, I completely agree with Michelle who says, “Wow, don’t bash the Mom for having an opinion!”

Will the list of people who really need to “get over it” please stand up?


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