Forget the floral hand lotion, the pointless kitchen gadget, the bunch of crappy supermarket flowers. Emily Writes has a few things that would really make her day on Sunday.
Mother’s Day! Every store in the land has shop fronts full of shit to buy your mum (and some not shit – like my book, which would make a great present – see I can be a capitalist when I try). Every mailer direct to your letterbox tells you what you need to get your mum for Mother’s Day. Too bad if your mum is dead, or not in your life, or if you never had a mum. Every email urges you to buy her some useless crap she doesn’t want or need, or insists it’s useless crap you want and need – whether or not you’re a mother, want to be a mother, never wanted to be a mother.
How about an industrial strength vacuum cleaner? Nothing says I appreciate you like a garbage disposal on special. What about a 50% off apron that says “I adore this life of domestic servitude”? How about an oversized nightie that says “I’m a mum” to remind her she’s now entirely sexless and without any other identity?
I’m here to help you with a proper list. Based entirely on me and my wants… But hey, it might resonate with other mums.
To be away from my family
I love you kids to the moon and back, all of the stars, bigger than the sun and all other planets old, new, undiscovered – even the ones that were planets but are now not. All of it.
But I also would love it if you left me alone for a few hours so I can sleep or watch Sons of Anarchy shower scene gifs or 16 hours of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
I love you more than life but it’s a great injustice that on Mother’s Day I have to spend even more time with you.
Everyone keeps asking me if I’m sad that I’ll be in Dunedin on my own on Mother’s Day. Mate, I’m going to sleep until 10 minutes before I go onstage. Then I’m literally going to be asleep three seconds after it is over.
A moratorium on people giving advice
Oh your baby sleeps through the night because of your adoption of the 18:20:16 dream catcher metamorphosis sleep training method? They graduated sleep school at three weeks with a post grad in self settling? FUCKING GOOD FOR YOU KAREN SHUT THE FUCK UP.
It’s Mother’s Day and I don’t want to hear any momsplaining. No advice on how to get my kid to sleep or eat or change a spare tyre.
While we are at it, stop calling my son Bruiser or thug or big boy. He’s a baby. He is not a thug or a bully just because of his size. He’s a happy potato who does not need you to project weird masculine stuff onto him. He is an 88% starch staple vegetable, he does not need that kind of pressure on him. Big boys need room to decide what kind of boys they are too.
Patience with how sleep deprived and shitty I am most of the time
I’m so tired. I wish everyone could just have a sleep on Mother’s Day and have one day where everyone is allowed to say dumb stuff or get upset or act like a toddler. Then we will all go back to being everything to everyone and perfect super mums who are always patient and kind and never judge and are always calm.
It’s a strange thing that we are literally adults. Is that strange? Or is that just me? You know how you’re like – How is my baby turning five? He was just born! Sometimes I’m like – How do I have two children? I was just born. I feel like I’m play acting at adulthood a lot of the time and so one day where I can just be a little self-absorbed jerk would be really nice. Maybe we reverse the roles. I want to be a kid for the day. Make me food. Exactly how I want it. Carry me down the stairs and put me in the bath because my legs are tired. Tuck me in with a bottle (of wine) and stroke my hair while you tell me how much you love me.
Pelvic floor renovation
I was booked in to see a bunch of awesome comedians for the Comedy Fest so of course my children immediately got sick so I had to stay home. Which in a way, is probably good – because I literally pissed myself laughing listening to Urzilla Carlson talk about her wax butt plug and it was a time.
My kids are like – jump on the trampoline mummy! And I’m like no and stop mocking me it’s not my fault my pelvic floor is in need of serious renovation.
Well, actually it kind of is my fault. Whenever the woman who ran the swimming exercise thing for pregnant women with bad backs at the pool (I refuse to call it preggercise or whatever cutesy name it probably has) told us we had to do kegels I just couldn’t. I tried to clench but was convinced I was doing it wrong. And she’d say things like “In France they test your pelvic floor to see if you’ve done your kegels” and then my mind would run away and suddenly I’d be clutching a breadstick and a woman in a crisp white nursing outfit would have her hand up my chuff yelling “THIS IS THE WORST VAGINA I HAVE EVER MET”.
My brain just does this. And then suddenly we would be going round the circle and all the other mums (lying bitches) would be saying they’d just done 800 kegels and everyone was like good job, good job and then it would be my turn and I’d say: “Like 15 maybe”.
Did I ever do a kegel properly? My inability to cough without pissing myself says no.
What else…What else…
Paid Parental Leave for 26 weeks at least, an overhaul of the midwifery system so that all midwives in New Zealand are paid properly for their work and post-natal wards are fully staffed with midwives who have been able to properly rest between shifts, proper funding for mental health care and support in New Zealand, properly funded Early Childhood Education with 100% qualified teachers, smaller class sizes and teacher/child ratios, a warrant of fitness for rentals so all homes are dry, warm, and safe, abortion out of the Crimes Act, better, wraparound support for families with children with disabilities and chronic illness, and a living wage or universal benefit for all.
Yeah I went there. Every Mother’s Day I try not to roll my eyes at politicians and others who can actually change this country crapping on about how valued mothers and children are. “Mothers are so important!” they say, their eyes already glazing over with boredom, desperate to get away from all of these useless women who aren’t earning money and therefore aren’t important to them. “My mum worked really hard for me to make these funding cuts to this service that is mostly used by mothers and children. She taught me how to be a better man!” Mate, I bet your mum thinks you’re a dick.
Mums aren’t valued in this country. And I will yell BULLSHIT at anyone in Government who pulls that crap (well, I’ll whisper it or txt it to my friend Gem).
They aren’t. If mothers were valued from the day they conceive, they wouldn’t struggle to find a midwife. Midwives wouldn’t be paid so crushingly little. They wouldn’t be treated like garbage for the vital and important work that they do. If mothers were valued, from the second their baby was born they’d get support. They’d have a proper amount of time at home with their baby or they’d be able to have their partner at home. They’d have warm and dry homes to go to. They wouldn’t be living in cars and garages with week old babies. They wouldn’t be rushed into work before they’re ready. They wouldn’t be told at their workplaces that they can’t pump and breastfeed or have flexible working hours. They wouldn’t have to send their kids to ECE centres that are run only for profit, and poorly run at that.
If they had mental health issues or their children did they’d be able to access good care quickly no matter where they lived in New Zealand. Likewise if they had a pregnancy they didn’t want they’d be able to get an abortion easily without having to say they’re mentally ill. If their baby had a serious medical condition or disability they’d be surrounded by support. They and their children wouldn’t be treated as drains on the economy but as loved and valued contributors to a fair and free society.
If we cared about mothers they’d be earning living wages – not trying to convince an employer like KFC *cough* or Carl’s Junior to pay them just 10c more than the pittance they are on. We wouldn’t leave them starving while they fed their babies first and attack them for not having full lunch boxes when their rent is more than half of their income, when they’re all sleeping in the lounge because they can only afford to heat one room. If we cared about mothers we wouldn’t punish them for not being able to afford shoes or raincoats or sunscreen or anything else for their children – we would just make sure their children had shoes and raincoats and sunscreen and other essentials. We wouldn’t make our national sport bagging solo mums and mums on benefits. We would be celebrating them for doing their best with what they have. If we cared about mothers we wouldn’t have the maternal suicide rate we do. If we cared about mothers they wouldn’t lose their job for taking too much sick leave because their child is desperately unwell. They wouldn’t feel they have to leave school if they got pregnant. We’d actually have mothers in Parliament making decisions that help mothers rather than old white men making decisions that harm mothers.
What a great Mother’s Day gift that would be. If we said we care about families and we care about mothers and we’re going to work together to make sure they know that. That they truly know it. Fuck massage vouchers – give mums freedom to be the best mums they can be by providing all mums with the same choices.
And if you can’t give us that, at least get out of the way of those of us who will try to.
Emily Writes is editor of The Spinoff Parents. Her book Rants in the Dark is out now. Buy it here. Or support The Neonatal Trust by buying a signed copy for Mother’s Day here. Follow her on Facebook here.
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.