It used to take days to find them, and even then, they’d rarely have photos of themselves handy. Of the kids, sure, but then they had no idea how to send me the pictures anyhow. I’d have to wait a few days until they could get their husbands to photograph them and another day for them to figure out how to send the results to me. And while we might be more tech savvy nowadays, I’m not sure that we’re any nicer to ourselves.
Back in 2003, when I first launched MommaSaid.net, we were a less tech savvy nation, a nation that didn’t know a jpeg from J-Lo. So when I tracked down my Housewife Award winners back then, moms wouldn’t answer my e-mail — usually sent to a family account (i.e. email@example.com) — for days. When they finally replied, they often didn’t know how to send photos over the Internet. I mean, some of us were still even using film back then.
But it wasn’t their Luddite ways that amazed and dismayed me. It was that so few moms had photos of themselves, as though the babies came along, nullifying any need to prove their existence. (Look, it’s a mini-me that’s way cuter!) Sure, some of us didn’t like our postpartum looks. Others were the family photographers and didn’t bother to get on the other side of the lens. The rest, I suspect, didn’t even think of it. After all, it was all about the kids, right?
Which is exactly why I have given out the awards with the tongue-in-cheek name — 177 of them so far. We moms endure a lot of stuff while taking care of the kids without so much as a pat on the back, while the movie industry appears to congratulate themselves every other week with lavish ceremonies and golden trophies. But they have stunt doubles, make-up trailers, wardrobe and craft services. Plus, a whole lot of cash. We everyday moms just have Christmas trees infested with spiders and bathtubs filled with tampons rendered useless and not enough duct tape.
How about a “We’ve got an eye on you, kid?” How about a “We know that generations of mothers have done this before, but you, you’re doing a great job!” How about a little recognition?
Ah, but that comes off as self-congratulatory in a way that’s somehow distasteful compared to the red-carpet-paloozas. Motherhood isn’t a job. It’s a responsibility, right? And it isn’t sponsored by Garnier Fructis or L’Oreal. But dammit, we’re worth it, too.
Most disturbing to me is that this generation of women was supposed to be different. We were raised on Title IX and bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan. We were told we could do anything, be anything we wanted. Yet when we chose work plus kids, we never felt like we were taking care of either well enough. And when we chose home vs. work, we didn’t think we deserved even a day off now and then. We didn’t even think we were worthy of a photograph. And that’s a terrible shame.
Nowadays, my Housewife Award winners respond in hours, not days, and they can get me a photograph of themselves, even if it’s a self portrait taken by timer or a really long arm. Every now and then, I catch a glimpse of them in their Facebook photos of their family trips to Disney or holiday dinners at the in-laws. Or in the About Me link on their blogs. Or even in pictures of just them, sent moments after I e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I hope today’s moms take a moment to pat themselves on the back. And to have someone else take pictures of them — just them — for the photo album, Facebook, Flickr and for the awards. Because, moms, we’re worth it, dammit.
Want a pat on the back for all you do, Mom? Enter the Housewife Awards today.
Pssst! Hey, you! We’d love to hear from you. Anything. A little hello. A “that was funny.” A “I’ve been a long-time fan” or “I’m new here.” Let’s get the conversation started. Some of you provided such great quotes for my books, that I’d love for everyone to hear from you here, too. You are such clever fans, all of you. Thanks!