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:
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 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!