Okay, I admit I’m going off on a slight tangent here.
My excuse for the artistic licence is that I go on a lot about mums being belittled over bottle feeding… and this is just belittling, full stop.
Here in the UK it’s Mothers Day on Sunday. This traditionally means a huge sales boost for chocolates, flowers, Sunday lunches – and cards.
I’m not sure whether I’ve sleepwalked through the 35 mothers’ days I’ve been alive for so far but it struck me today like a sledgehammer – the cards are, almost without exception, sexist, stereotypical and utterly irrelevant to modern life.
“Dear mum, thanks for doing all the washing/cooking/ironing, I love you” (however, the only thing I can think of to celebrate about you is the fact that you do household chores)
“Dear mum, your washing/cooking/ironing is completely crap… but I love you anyway” (one card, which no doubt thought itself hilarious, was emboldened with the gag: How do we know when dinner is ready? when mum’s in the kitchen and we hear the fire brigade coming. What dazzling wit)
“Dear mum, I know you spend most of the year living like a Victorian scullery maid but hey, have a day off!” (see picture)
The picture, taken in a well-known stationery shop, made me so cross I actually had to walk out. I mean, seriously. In 21st century Britain, is there a mother among us for whom Thursday (or indeed any day) is “washing day”? Sandwiched as it is between “shopping” on a Wednesday and “baking” on Friday. Even in Downton Abbey they didn’t live like that. Either above or below stairs.
Am I just being pissy? Surely, whether you’re a stay-at-home mum or a working mum, this piece of mind-blowing tedium is not how you would wish to describe your week?
And is it really still funny to mock a woman for her domestic abilities? Maybe your mum is a bit tardy with the vacuuming because she’s… I don’t know… juggling two jobs and looking after her own aged parents. So instead of trashing her for her failings on the day that is supposed to belong to her in the first place, as the card companies seem to be suggesting, why not put your money where your mouth is and dig out the marigolds yourself?
I ended up buying my own mum – a formidable lady who trekked to the base camp of Everest in her late 50s despite having arthritis – a card featuring a cartoon from the New Yorker. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Mothers Day but it sure as hell doesn’t pass any judgement on her sodding ironing skills. She would never forgive me.