The Mommyish offices were abuzz this morning over an amusing piece in the New Yorker titled “I’m a Mom.” The minute we all read it, Eve, Koa and I immediately said, “That’s a joke, right?” “It has to be a joke…” We considered the context, as it’s in the “Shouts & Murmurs” section. We considered how over-the-top the piece was in asserting that mothers are the only people who matter in the world. The sheer self-assuredness of the piece meant that it had to be a joke. Right… Right?
The problem and the reason we were all so hesitant to laugh is that every writer who even vaguely mentions the topic of parenthood realizes that the sentiment in “I’m a Mom” is one you can find all over the internet. The idea that non-parents don’t have any place commenting on the business of raising children? We’ve seen it. Calling childfree folks selfish, hateful and career-obsessed? It’s been discussed in mommy-chats all over the web. Mom being the most important but least appreciated people on the planet? There have been whole books devoted to the idea.
In her truly funny read, Jenny Allen says things like, “I’m not saying that moms are better than other people, but there is, well, something different, something special about us.” My friends, if you read mommy blogs, that line is a familiar one. You’ve heard over and over again that moms are just different. “Moms are just selfless,” we tell ourselves, choosing to ignore the insinuation that no one else cares about anything but themselves.
When Allen dismisses fathers as hopeless and incompetent, it seems amusing at first. “We would just be a nation of dads, who, let’s face it, don’t know a strep throat from a screwdriver and always get the washing machine confused with the dryer—antics that are funny on sitcoms but have no place in the real America, which is why moms have to do everything.” Then I think back to all the ways in which we portray dads as complete idiots, even when we’re supposed to be thanking fathers on their special day.
And when this piece talks about all the giving mothers do without expecting a thing in return, I cannot help but feel like she stole it out of the rants of countless moms who included the word ‘Thankless” in the title of their blog posts. Allen says, “But when was the last time your child said to you, “Thank you for taking me to the emergency room,” or, “Thank you for writing my history paper for me”? And you know what? They don’t have to. Giving is our job.” And honestly, who doesn’t feel like they’ve read those words before.
Jenny Allen has written a very funny piece about moms and why they are oh-so-important and oh-so-overlooked and oh-so-giving. She just a great job satirizing all the hyperbole that surrounds motherhood, especially on the internet. The problem is that if the piece were published on a number of other websites, it really wouldn’t be a joke.
(Photo: STFU, Parents)