She …doesn’t exist. She’s a myth contrived by humanity over the ages as some sort of paragon of virtue against which all real mothers are continually compared, unfairly I might add. And that maternal construction of perfection is continually being altered as the definition of “the perfect mom” is continually redefined by succeeding generations and by social classes.
The questions as to what comprises the perfect mother are myriad. Is she the nurturing, stay-at-home mom who dotes on her children and takes care of their every need? But that will spoil the child, claim the proponents of the “spare the rod, spoil the child” school of child rearing. Yes, the mother should nurture, but she should also provide discipline when necessary, they exhort. But what form should that discipline take? Should it involve corporal punishment? Timeouts? Withdrawal of affection? Taking away their cell phone and/or video game privileges?
What of the debate swirling around the recent book that extolled the virtues of the tough love Tiger Mom methodology? Is it in your child’s best interest to push him or her from an early age, to get straight As, and play the violin, and participate in sports, and be president of the student council, and editor of the school newspaper, and volunteer for community service all so he or she can then get accepted into an Ivy League school and then become a business leader, or law partner, or cardiologist, or tech entrepreneur? But remember what the Scottish poet Robert Burns had to say, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” Who’s to say that the tiger mom’s methods are the proper or perfect ones?
How about the moms out there that attempt to speed-up the maturation process of their child by attempting to explain “adult” concepts to them at an early age and granting them “adult” privileges as well? The common example being parents that allow their children to consume alcohol, as minors, in the comfort of their own home, under their supervision. The rational being that the kids are going to do it regardless, so we might as well provide the alcohol for them and ensure their safety by permitting them to party at home.
Look, I don’t have the answers to these complex questions. You can search on-line and read various books, written by child psychologists, and get the answers you’re looking for to reinforce your underlying belief in corporal punishment, or mega-nurturing, or pushing your child to write a piano concerto before the age of six. The point is, 99% of mothers out there love their children, including yours, be they stay-at-home moms, or career moms, or single moms, or some combination of all three, and they simply do what they consider best to provide a bright future for their child or children, and 100% of them realize they are not perfect.
My mother was not perfect, and she’ll be the first to admit this. She regrets how much she yelled at us (my brother, sister and I deserved it, by the way). She also believes that she wasn’t as nurturing and loving as she should have been, although I don’t know what the barometer for that is, exactly. She also regrets that she and my father were unable to provide better things for us, but I remember having everything a child could ever want, and more. Sure, as I got older I wanted unrealistic items, like a Corvette, and designer clothes, and Air Jordans, and vacations to Hawaii, and an in-ground pool, and a maid ( who looked like Farrah Fawcett) and was angry when none of those things were provided for me. What can I say? I was, and still am to a large degree, an immature, materialistic male who was jealous of his friends and the things they had.
But my mother, despite her imperfections, did her best to raise children that appreciated what they had, knew right from wrong, worked hard, questioned authority, respected others, resolved disputes in a nonviolent manner, and treated everyone as they wished to be treated and she was extremely successful on every count with all three of her children. And believe me, that’s no small feat given what she had to work with.
I’ve tried, every Mother’s Day since I’ve grown up, to repay her for all she’s done for me over the years, but she always claims that all she ever wants from her children is a warm hug when they see her. However, I’ve also come to realize that something small, in addition to a warm hug, brings a twinkle to her eye, and that small things is usually something sweet, and comes in the form of chocolate. This is where Magickitchen can certainly help you (and me) out with their numerous choices of desserts that can be delivered right to your mom’s doorstep, on Mother’s Day, or any other day for that matter. Until May 10, you can get 10% off Mother’s Day dessert gifts.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that there’s a direct relationship between my age and how much I appreciate and love my mother. The older I get, the more I love and appreciate her and the more I regret how I treated her when I was younger, especially given the fact that I now have two sons of my own. They say one becomes more and more like their parents as they grow older, imperfections and all, and that’s just fine with me.
Steve Tinker, MagicKitchen.com blogger, is a father and son and tries his best to be a great parent.