Sunday is Mother’s Day.
Yet another in a long list of holidays centered around the women in our lives! And yet… it makes sense. Especially for moms. In fact, they probably deserve more than one day.
Because let’s be honest: moms get screwed.
Society is consistently underrating fathers, lowering the bar and making it easy for us to look like superheroes merely for changing diapers and not screwing up the grocery shopping. But it does the exact opposite to moms.
Everyone keeps expecting more from the mothers of our children. We keep adding things to their plate, holding them to higher standards, and attacking them when they don’t live up to absurd expectations. What’s crazy about women like Mom and Buried is that they keep exceeding those expectations.
Mom and Buried doesn’t have it easy. She has two kids, she has multiple sclerosis, she’s married to me. (I may write a big game, but I have many flaws: I’m a firm believer in the “some dishes need to soak” philosophy, I primarily speak in movie quotes, I hate being the big spoon, etc.) She has it pretty rough!
Not that you’d know. *I* know, because she tells me (usually right when I’m about to fall asleep), but you wouldn’t know. Because Mom and Buried, like so many other mothers out there, who should by all rights be drowning from the mental load of being a woman in the 21st century, she keeps crushing it without much in the way of complaining, no matter how much she deserves to.
This is why movies like Bad Moms do so well at the box office (despite being rather terrible).
Moms are desperate for the freedom to loosen up, desperate for the leeway to care a little less in a society that condemns them for even the slightest miscue while simultaneously undervaluing the work they do. And many of them perform this thankless job on top of an actual paid job that, while hopefully not thankless is definitely not thanksASMUCHASMEN because of wage discrepancies. (And based on the steady trickle of #metoo stories, is probably beset with criminal levels of groping and harassment.)
Last year, when I turned 40, I wrote a depressing post about how I could no longer pretend to be cool. When dads are young-ish (i.e., 25-40), we have a certain cachet. Because when it comes to being a dad, being cool is better than being competent.
Moms are valued for other things. Society wants mothers with superhuman multitasking skills, family based omniscience, and general hyper-competence.
We put an insane amount of pressure on the women in our lives, and it’s been happening for so long they’ve stopped resisting the pressure and accepted it as part of the job description. The crazy thing is, they deliver!
My wife is a perfect example of all of this. She questions and pushes herself way too much for someone who does so much so well. And I know she’s not alone. No matter how much today’s mothers do, it’s never enough, not even for them. (No wonder they like their wine.)
I know, because I live with one of those supermoms.
Last fall, to celebrate Mom and Buried’s birthday, we spent the weekend with friends (and without the kids!) visiting some wineries. As usual, she planned and organized much of the trip herself. I tell myself it’s because she’s better at that stuff, and that’s definitely true (I’m not one for logistics and/or forethought), but it’s also because we’re both used to her managing these kinds of things, even for her birthday. That sucks, and that’s on me.
So I’m writing this to let Mom and Buried know that I know how amazing she is, and to acknowledge how much she does as a wife and a mother (two words that do a really poor job of indicating the vastness of both of those roles); how much so many women – our wives and our moms and more – do and deal with that we men (dads and husbands and more) often get a pass on.
I’m also writing it to acknowledge that I’m part of the problem, and to force myself to try harder and to be better.
I may never be able to reach my wife’s lofty bar, but if I raise mine a little higher, maybe she’ll stop having to.
A version of this post originally appeared on Facebook.