Fitting into the Mother’s Day box

4 May

May is a great month, if you happen to be me. Not only does Australia recognise the fact that I’ve given birth and thus far successfully raised three human babies, but the day of my birth is also remembered.Bring on the presents, cakes, friends, family, food and bubbles that comes with all that celebrating, cause I love it!

It’s a terrific time of year to have a birthday if you are female, because every chain with a half decent advertising executive targets a stack of ‘sales’ toward the ‘mother’s day market’. Clothes, perfume, kitchen appliances and any kind of lotion you have ever even thought of buying is slashed in price, making it oh-so-easy to spend that birthday money from Nanna.(Thanks, Nan.)

But if you’ve taken a peek at any of the junk mail that has somehow managed to infiltrate your household, you may be surprised to discover just exactly what society deems suitable gifts for mothers.

If Mums were cars, we’d obviously be the models that are built for comfort. Amongst all the belted cardigans and slippers, most of what you find on the first few pages are photos of young, relaxed-looking mums in their pyjamas.Why? Is it because as kids, the first and longest-lasting image we have of our family matriarch is of her in her jim-jams and dressing gown waking us up so we won’t be late for school? (That could be just me.) If so, the mums in the catalogues are of a different breed to the hard-working and rather tired-looking Mum I grew up with. In their colour-coordinated pyjamas with matching robe and cute slippers, and without any evidence of the usual smearings, these pyjamas are almost all, disturbingly, covered with pitures of cartoon characters.There’s Elmo, Little Miss Chatterbox, Cookie Monster, Snoopy, Tinkerbell and strangely enough, Sponge Bob Square Pants. Are mothers supposed to know who Sponge Bob actually is? And care enough to wear him on their night clothes?

There’s some sort of strange inversion happening here that I don’t understand. When I was little, all I wanted was to be grown up, wearing my Mum’s high heels, her long dresses, bags and make-up. I was into the perfume and the shoes (of course) and the driving and the weddings. All the trappings of adulthood held a certain fascination that I loved to indulge. Never did my mum express a desire to wear my little pinafores, Strawberry Shortcake or Rainbow Bright t-shirts. In the 80’s, adults dressed like adults, and kids were dressed like kids.

Back then, when I was little enough to be reading my mum’s Women’s Weekly magazines, I vividly remember one article having a dig at Lady Di for her new hairdo. She’s had the audacity to allow it to grow a bit longer, and to pull the sides back with combs. I thought she looked beautiful- who in the 80’s didn’t?- yet the writer of the piece described her look as ‘mumsy’. So what? Was that suppossed to be a taunt? I was desperate to look like a mum, act like a mum and one day be a mum. Here was Princess Diana, looking gorgeous and dealing with new babies, a royal title and all sorts of other royal inconveniences. Which mum in their right mind wouldn’t have wanted to look like her?

But perhaps, us merely common mothers are destined for more ‘mumsiness’, and should never aspire to the heights of fashion, or even managing to get out of our tracky daks. Just take a look at the catalogues.

Apparently we should fill our wardrobe with a ‘cosy sweat’, ‘casual pant’ or any one of a zillion nasty-looking, furry acrylic pair of slippers. When a jumper became a ‘sweat’ and a pair of pants became ‘pant’ I do not know. Maybe it was a symptom of the GFC that I missed. Having to cut back on our consonants for the sake of economy, perhaps.

So if your mother’s day list isn’t full of pyjamas, tracksuit, slippers or kitchen appliances, you may well not be fulfilling society’s obligations for motherhood. You have the option to read a cook-book while you lay on your electrically-heated blanket, indulge in chocolate or re-stock the linen press with new towels. Other than that, I have noted a strange inclusion this year that hasn’t previously been seen in Mother’s Day advertising material. A Nintendo DS. Who are they trying to kid? Perhaps it’s one of those ‘suggestions’ they slip in their for the cashed-up kids and Dads to ‘give’ to mum when instead, they’re really buying it for themselves. It’s quite sneaky, really, and should not be tolerated, especially when it’s Mother’s Day next weekend.

Hang on a sec. They could be on to something here. It’s only four months till Father’s Day.I’m sure my husband will need a new Dyson vacuum cleaner by then. Or perhaps tickets to see a classic musical. Didn’t he mention a hankering for a bit of retail therapy in Melbourne? The possibilities are endless.

Have a happy Mother’s Day, whatever you do and whatever you get. May you appreciate the luke-warm cups of tea and the burnt offerings from your children. May we all recognise the privilege that it is to be a mother, and the gift it is to have a mother.

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2 Responses to “Fitting into the Mother’s Day box”

  1. SistaInArms May 7, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    So glad to hear that I am not the only one who has the opinion that society has things back the front, but I must be honest and admit……I love the silly slippers, what can I say! Lxx

  2. lawandshoes May 30, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    Bugger the advertised gifts. Bugger made up holidays. But it is always good to get pressies. Particularly red ones.

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