herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

You can keep your mauve teddy. I just want some respect

Most Mother's Day gifts are like something you'd give a person in hospital after you'd run her over with your car and driven off.

They look like they should be presented to a semi-comatose woman lying in a bed.

"Look, Mammy! I may have run you over but I've brought you a nice mauve teddy bear with 'World's Best Mum' on it!"

"Oh look, Mammy! Look at the nice pink flowers on your dresser! You'll never see the flowers in the garden again, but we've brought you some nice carnations to brighten up the ward!"

And then there are the presents for mammies for whom there is sadly no hope left.

"Get your snout into this nice bottle of pink champagne, Mam. It comes with a lovely balloon 'Happy Mother's Day' on it and flies high as a kite, just like you do when you're on the booze!"

Or the endless boxes of chocolates for the mammy who wants to spend the day scoffing truffles with the blinds down.

For want of a real person to cuddle, she can snuggle up to a disgusting cushion inscribed with the words 'Mum and me, cuddling on the sofa since 1970'.

What does this say about what we think of mothers?

It says we think of motherhood as a frenzied assault that turns sensible women into cabbages.

Sometimes the cabbages remember that they used to be sensible women, and that's when they can turn nasty.

That's when they have to be bought off with mauve cup cakes. That's when they're given nice big bottles of pink fizz to suck on in the hope they'll go bye-byes.

The gifts are peace offerings given to mothers in the hope of shutting them up.

"Go on, have an afternoon tea in a hotel with a nice piano going plinky, plinky, plinky in the background. Then put your hand in your bag and give me your car key for the rest of the year."

It's not that the gift-bearers don't feel guilty about how mothers have been used and abused.

patronising

They do. But they want to keep on doing it and they think three lilac helium balloons with "Happy Mother's Day" on them will keep us quiet for another year.

This entire trade is patronising in the extreme.

Irish mothers are mature women. The average age of the first-time mother is now 32.

They constitute 98pc of all carers and homemakers and are largely responsible for a thing called "social cohesion", without which we get no economic development.

Their responsiveness to their children is the single most important factor in whether those kids will make it or not.

But right from the start of this Mother's Day lark, it's been about buying us off.

Anna Jarvis, who founded the day in the US, and Constance Smith, who got it going in the UK, never had kids themselves.

Which is a telling fact.

Because the whole day is built on the guilt of people who know they have run their mothers into the ground.

Constance Smith was channelling a post-World War One sentimentality, which was all about mothers sacrificing their beloved sons for king and country.

There they'd be, crying into their dishes in the kitchen because their darling boys were slaughtered for no good reason on the battlefield when hubby would walk in carrying a Mother's Day teddy bear with a personalised certificate which read "Best Mum in the World".

"Gosh, thanks," you imagine them saying. I hardly miss my sons now I have my mauve teddy bear.

I hope they howled! I hope they took all of the dishes out of the sink and broke them one by one on the kitchen floor!

I hope they said there's only one thing I want and it's hard to get because you can't buy it in a shop.

You have to feel it. And it's still the one thing mothers really want on Mother's Day a century later.

Respect.

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