Mother’s Day is right around the corner, so now is a good time to talk.
It was supposed to be a day about showing love and appreciation to our wonderful moms, but I feel that of late it’s become so commercialised that it’s hard to remember what it’s really about.
Companies are using the day to make money by selling flowers, chocolates, and cards instead of focusing on the hard work and sacrifices that moms make every day. We’re bombarded with ads and messages telling us to buy things for our moms, as if the value of our love can be measured by how much we spend. It’s pretty overwhelming, to be honest!
In 2021, Americans spent a whopping $28.1 billion on Mother’s Day gifts, which is crazy! Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to celebrate our moms, but the commercialisation of Mother’s Day has turned it into a materialistic holiday where the focus is on the gifts and not the love. And for those who can’t afford expensive gifts, the day can be a source of shame and guilt.
The pressure of Mother’s Day is not just about the money spent on gifts, but also the expectation of perfection. Commercials and advertisements often portray the perfect mother as someone who has it all together – a pristine home, well-behaved children, and a happy family. This image of perfection puts immense pressure on mothers to live up to these unrealistic standards. Social media has also contributed to this pressure, with mothers feeling the need to post the perfect picture with their children or the perfect gift received, in order to show the world that they are the perfect mother. This pressure to be perfect can be overwhelming and can take away from the joy of motherhood.
Moreover, everyone is not that fortunate. For those who never had a mother, have lost their mothers, or have a difficult relationship with them, the day can be a painful reminder of what they don’t have. And for those of mothers raising a special child, motherhood is not all bed of roses. Painting a picture of a perfect mom is a far fetched reality
The dilemma of working mums
The commercialisation of Mother’s Day has had a detrimental effect on working mothers, who face the impossible dilemma of balancing work and motherhood without sacrificing one for the other. Despite progress towards gender equality, working mothers are still expected to be the primary caregivers for their children, creating a never-ending cycle of trying to be the perfect employee while also being the perfect mother. The pressure to excel at work and home is relentless, and it leads to burnout, exhaustion, and stress.
Working mothers may feel guilty for not spending enough time with their children or for missing important milestones. The fact that society places a high value on motherhood exacerbates this guilt, creating a paradox for working mothers who receive both praise and criticism for choosing to work. The lack of affordable childcare, flexible work arrangements, and paid parental leave makes it difficult for working mothers to balance their responsibilities, forcing them to choose between their career and family. The pressure to be a perfect employee and a perfect mother also creates a culture of overwork, where working long hours and sacrificing personal time is seen as a badge of honour. Amidst such discrepancies, the ad campaign #LongDueRest by UrbanClap feels like breath of fresh air.
We also need to shift our cultural expectations of motherhood and recognise mothers for the selfless love and care they provide, irrespective of their caste, creed and form. Thanks to Johnson’s Baby #HeartOfAMom, ad campaign, people now know that a mother’s love is not tied to her physical form. It is only the perception of society that forces mothers to feel they are not good enough.
Even though research shows that the children of working mothers grow into happier and healthy adults, the stigma around it doesn’t seem to fade away.
The Pressure on Home-makers
Now you must have a feeling that stay-at-home mothers have it easy. Well no! According to recent data, the majority of stay-at-home mothers report feeling significant pressure to be perfect in their roles as homemakers. This pressure is exacerbated by the commercialisation of TV ads and the societal expectation that mothers should effortlessly juggle their roles as caretakers, cooks, cleaners, and emotional pillars of the family.
This pressure can lead to negative consequences for housewives, including isolation and loneliness. Studies show that stay-at-home mothers often have fewer social connections and less contact with the outside world than working mothers. This lack of social interaction can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection from the rest of society.
When there’s all empty talk, Nissan’s ad on gender-neutral mothers, deserves a big round of applause.
The societal myth that housewives are unproductive and that their work is easy and unskilled is another contributing factor to the pressure they face. In reality, stay-at-home mothers work tirelessly around the clock, often without any breaks or vacations. Their work is essential to the functioning of the family unit and contributes significantly to the economy. You might be surprised to learn that if you were a stay-at-home parent and were paid for your services, you could expect to earn a median annual salary of $178,201 in 2019, according to data from Salary.com. Why? Because a lot of parents who stay at home are constantly working. When you have young children, work can frequently entail feedings at night, waking up early risers, and meal preparation in the wee hours of the morning.
The pressure on women to be perfect mothers and wives is daunting. In an attempt to achieve perfection, women often forget who they really are. Particularly mothers who work relentlessly within and outside the house. The expectation of domestic perfection, the isolation and loneliness of housewives, and the lack of recognition and appreciation for their work are all contributing to dwindling self-confidence in women. Dove’s campaign “You are more beautiful than you think”, projects women’s psychology on canvas and brings forth the imaginary image they have created for themselves.
It’s time to recognise the invaluable contribution moms make to our society and start appreciating their hard work and dedication not just on Mother’s Day but every day. Providing support and resources to help them cope with the pressure they face and creating a culture that values the contribution of all types of work, paid and unpaid, will help mothers get stronger and in turn, as P&G’s #ThankYouMom campaign says, “It takes someone strong to make someone strong.”
We have always viewed moms as superhumans. Every commercial portrays moms as splendid multitaskers with superhuman abilities. While they do have immense power, most of us are unaware of the struggle behind the scenes. Therefore, I feel we need to drop that ‘superhuman’ tag and start seeing them as humans first. This Mother’s Day let us vow to make the journey easier for them.