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By Diana Diamond

Motherhood -- Revisited

Uploaded: May 8, 2018

Welcome to my new blog at the Palo Alto Weekly. My goal is to discuss a variety of issues affecting Palo Alto, its residents and our daily lives, and perhaps to inspire some outside-the-box thinking.
I am not always politically correct, hence, my column title, “An Alternative View.” But I want to hear your thoughts, supporting or rejecting what I write, so that we begin a healthy dialogue. We certainly won’t agree on all things, but that’s part of the fun of writing and reading a blog.
If you have community concerns you would like me to look into, let me know. We are all in this town together, striving to make our community work well.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, when mothers of all ages are honored, showered with flowers and treated to lovely restaurant brunches (although many still have to cook a family dinner that night).
Every year my local church celebrates Mother’s Day by asking all the women attending to stand by the altar so that the men can honor them. Then each woman is given a rose. This pleasant female acknowledgement is not limited to mothers, but all women attending, acknowledging, I guess, that we females are all capable of having children. On Father’s Day the men get acknowledged at the altar (without the roses, of course.)
Something about this small ceremony has bothered me for a long time. After all, if women are honored for motherhood, why should this disturb me?
I finally figured it out. We women this one day are being honored not for who we are, or what we’ve done, or for our professional accomplishments or service to others – just for being mothers.
In a New York Times op-ed column this week by Margaret Renkl, she noted that these brunches et al are only “outwards manifestations of the persistent cultural belief that motherhood is the climax of female life.” Men aren’t culturally viewed that fatherhood is the pinnacle of accomplishment of their lives.
I think mothers the past decade or two have a harder job maintaining the societal role of being a good parent than I did years ago when I had my four sons (in four years).
Mothers today, especially in this area, are told not so subtly that it is preferable to be a stay-at-home mom than have a career. And once they opt for that role, they have bought into the local parental model. The result is a sense of obligation to hover over one’s offspring day and night, constantly overseeing all they do, driving them to and from school, filling their kids’ time with constant activities, and attending any and every athletic activity their children are involved in. And the peer pressure is enormous, with conformity the rule, as in, “Jane! You let your child walk home alone today from the park?”
One of my friends told me her daughter thinks that raising a child is the one and only most important thing a woman can do in life.
I am not sure I agree, and wonder how these hovered-over children will turn out as adults. Will they be self-sufficient? Will they take criticism? I hope so.
Children are very important, of course. And Sunday is Mother’s Day. Take pride, mothers, in all that you have done as a parent, and remember to continue to enjoy your own life, as well as the lives of your children and grandchildren.