On International Mother’s Day let’s consider what mothers need

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It is so easy to simplify the needs of mothers by viewing women only in terms of their biological ability to reproduce. Viewed in this way the needs of mothers are pared down to childcare, help with domestic work and the purported desire to look and sound like Mary Poppins who finds every thing absolutely delightful and magical.

Some of us mothers, however, have needs that are more in keeping with the real world we live in. We work because we have to. We prefer to put frozen meals in the microwave because food processes have advanced so much that we don’t have to stand over a stove everyday anymore. We run the hoover around the home about once a week because the heavy lugging required seems that bit more cumbersome after a day spent juggling whatever it is we juggle.

The question of ‘What do mothers need?’ is the title of a journal published by Demeter Press in 2012 and produces answers for a modern world where mothers assume many diverse identities and play multiple roles. The term ‘multitasking’ extends a mother’s ability to do many different things simultaneously to imbuing the concept with layers of abilities and identities as evidenced in the journal and to how mothers are judged.

The first chapter in the journal starts off with a powerful account of a single mother who constantly feels judged by her shopping list. Do you feel that other people are passing judgement when you go shopping with your children and pick up chocolates and biscuits instead of having more healthy eating food? I do and I am not being paranoid either. I almost feel embarrassed when my daughter insists on putting chocolate covered cereal into the trolley instead of the healthy muesli stuff. This scrutiny of mothers is enhanced by ridiculous labels like ‘Tiger Mom’, ‘Yummy Mummy’ etc. I referred earlier about mothers having multiple identities and such labels do not capture the fullness of our mother personas. What the hell is a ‘Momzilla?’
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Another chapter explores the concept of ‘Helicopter Parenting’. I must admit to being one myself and have never quite found a valid reason for not being one. My daughter seems well-adjusted and has good values. My ‘Helicopter Parenting’ has not reaped negative dividends. However, I had not extrapolated my parenting methods onto a wider structure. The author concludes that ‘Helicopter Parenting’ is designed to maintain and reproduce elite status but that discussions of helicopter parenting rewrite class reproduction only as bad parenting. The other aspects of helicopter parenting which are acts of personal parenting are not seen as being bad parenting. In other words, ‘Helicopter Parenting’ is only derided for producing children who will not be able to be independent to deal with adversity. I can feel a blog post coming on dedicated to ‘Helicopter Parenting’.

The chapters in the book are organized under six themes: ‘Redefining Motherhood’, ‘Empowering Mothers’, ‘Mothers, Children and families: Health and Well-Being’, ‘Mothers, Education and Social Change’, ‘Mothers, Partners and Parenting’ and ‘Mothers and Work’. All of which demonstrate the diverse and varied experiences that we have.

Happy Mother’s Day.


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