OPINION By Melissa Grant
You never truly appreciate Mother’s Day until you become a mum yourself. Sure, you can show your mum appreciation by buying her flowers, making her breakfast or giving her perfume – but you don’t know her true worth until you start raising a child.
That’s the conclusion I’ve come to after becoming a mum just over a year ago. It’s only now I’m beginning to truly understand the hard labour and sacrifices motherhood entails. I’m sure I’ll get the full picture when my daughter becomes a teenager who talks back to me and begs me to go out partying.
Somebody once told me that becoming a mum is the best but hardest thing you’ll ever do. They weren’t wrong. But I also think my mother’s generation had it a lot harder. Back then, most mothers did practically everything for their children as fathers were expected to do little more than earn the family an income. Of course, paying the mortgage and putting food on the table is important. But so too is helping out with the kids – whether it’s supervising, changing nappies or feeding.
It’s only now I stop to think about the thousands of pooey nappies my mum changed, the seemingly endless loads of washing she did with three kids, the countless nights slaving over a hot stove and the tens of thousands of kilometres she clocked up on school and sports runs. When she had three kids under five, I imagine the simplest tasks, from having a hot coffee to going grocery shopping, would have been fairly difficult.
Then there’s the personal sacrifice. In decades gone by, many women had little choice but to give up paid work altogether when they became mothers. With little or sometimes no childcare options, less part-time jobs and less workplace flexibility than today, it was simply too difficult for mums to keep working. While it’s good to be able to stay at home with the kids if the family can afford it (not many can these days), let’s not forget many mums gave up their careers, took a hit to their superannuation balances and faced extreme difficulties getting back into the workforce when their offspring became older.
It’s also worth acknowledging that technology, in many aspects, has made motherhood easier. Not only do I have Hi-5 on demand, but own a whizz bang mop that can clean my hardwood floors in five minutes flat. In decades gone by, mums would have been counting down the minutes until Play School or Sesame Street went to air and spent half an hour mopping the floor.
When you’re young and childless, it’s easy to take your mum for granted. It’s also easy to treat Mother’s Day as not too dissimilar to any of the other 364 days in a year. We should appreciate our mums not only this Sunday but every day. So today I say, thanks mum.