This Mom Is Sick of Being Pandered To

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This Mom Is Sick of Being Pandered To

By Courtney Enlow | Think Pieces | April 18, 2014 | Comments ()


This will be brief. I don’t have the energy to fully commit to the subject what with the abject slavery I experience every day in my truly horrific and devastating existence as a mother. Woe is me. My life is literal shit.

That’s the message every single fucking time this topic comes up, and each time it does, I get less and less invested. Because I’m bored. I’m bored being draped with the hollow praise of a corporation basing said praise in the pursuit of my dollars, those ones I didn’t earn by being a mom.

Here’s the secret: being a mom is great. It can also suck diaper sack. Here’s the super secret sub-secret: in that way, it’s no different than any other major aspect of life. Ultimately rewarding with big chunks of suck is also how one could describe work, marriage, friendship and eating dairy. It’s just life. Thanks for the fucking back-pat, American Greetings, but your message is just like your product: immediately disposable.

I love my kid. She’s a crazy boatload of ridiculous and my favorite thing in the world. And no one needs to act like keeping her alive and happy is the equivalent of mining for fucking blood diamonds, and even if it was, I still don’t want someone patronizing to me just to get me to buy laundry detergent or a $4 piece of paper.

I am a mom. I’m also a woman, a writer, a professional, a wife, an eater of pizza, a daughter, a former dancer, a viewer of television and someone who has seen every Saw movie. All of those things have given me varying degrees of highs and lows and none of them define me or any other person.

Stick that on a greeting card, seal it, stamp it and mail it up your ass.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • I'm way late to this, which is too bad, because when I first saw it, I couldn't understand why it kept appearing in my Facebook feed. I still don't.

    Here's what I posted in response:

    Am I the only person who hates this video?

    Listen, it's hard being the primary caregiver of a tiny person who doesn't understand why you shouldn't stick your tongue in an electrical outlet. That's one of the reasons I haven't wanted to take the role on myself. But -- correct me if I'm wrong on this, parents -- is it maybe exaggerating a teensy bit to say that parents never get to sit down? Or sleep? That parents don't EVER get to tend to their own needs until the child's needs are fully taken care of? That parents can't tell their kids to play by themselves for a while?

    Did I mention that this video claims parents can't sit down? I wasn't exaggerating for humorous effect.

    Oh, I'm sorry. They said MOTHERS can't sit down. Mothers. Because fathers are never the stay-at-home parent, and if they are, it doesn't count, because MOTHERS, amirite?

  • TacoBellRey

    I have the strong urge to sing "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" right now.

  • amberdragonfly

    I love this so much! My daughter is not a job, she is a blessing. She is the center of my world right now, because she is little, but I have never given up my own identity to be her mother. And she is a freaking awesome kid!

  • kirbyjay

    I have a niece who constantly complains about her life and how she's always with her kids and has no life and blah, blah, blah....... When I told her I was glad to have a nanny to raise mine she finally shut up.
    No, I did not have a nanny.

  • Tracey Harrington McCoy

    This hit me EXACTLY the same way. So contrived. It was gross. Glad you wrote this.

  • George

    I'm surprised at all the positive responses to this post. These kind of messages are definitely hyperbolic, but I'm assuming you understand that the reason they exist at all is because mothers, especially stay-at-home mothers, have rarely been given any credit for the work that they do?

  • Tammy

    It's because it doesn't feel sincere. It's a company cynically pandering to the (legitimate) idea you espouse above, for the sole purpose of selling product to mothers; coupled with the unfortunate side-effect of reinforcing the idea that a woman's worth is inherently tied to motherhood [and, as several gentleman above have stated, devaluing the contributions of involved fathers].
    It's not a feminist message, or even a particularly pro-women one. It's simply a marketing ploy, masquerading as a pro-woman message.

  • Donna SHerman

    "Ultimately rewarding with big chunks of suck is also how one could describe work, marriage, friendship and eating dairy."

    Perfect sentence is perfect. You are just getting better with age, Courtney.

  • Donna SHerman

    I didn't mean that as an insult. I meant I seem to like every column you write more than the one before's a good thing, I swear!

  • Already tore the internet a new a-hole over this enough for one week. Already alienated enough twee mommy martyrs for one week. Already hugged my grown daughter enough this week to make up for being once again ignored because I have a penis.
    I know, friggin patriarchy.

  • janeite1900

    Slow clap. Also, when did Pajiba start banning jerks and not douches?

  • DaveKan

    I just read the book "All Joy and No Fun" by Jennifer Senior; it hit the mark pretty well...I agree that this constant buttering up to sell you stuff is tiresome.

  • e jerry powell

    But what's on your pizza?

  • narfna

    "Stick that on a greeting card, seal it, stamp it and mail it up your ass."

    It's not as great as your vagina-suction-cupped-to-the-TV RDJ joke, but I still want it on a t-shirt.

  • Uriah_Creep

    It's not as great as your vagina-suction-cupped-to-the-TV RDJ joke

    That one gave me a serious pain from laughing so hard.

  • chanohack

    SO many things bothered me about that video. I ranted extensively on facebook. Is Mother's Day going to become a month-long holiday like so many other money-earning holidays? Because I don't think I can handle it.

  • YES.

  • bastich

    I see a lot of posts from (and about) parents on this site, and that's wonderful and all...but where's the love for uncles?

    Aren't we the ones who'll take your kids to the amusement park for the day, fill them full of caffeine and sugar, and give them back to you that night? Aren't we the ones who will, years later, sneak them their first sip of beer, their first puff of a cigarette, and take them to a strip club after the first time they get their heart broken? Don't we serve as a living reminder of what will happen to them if they don't straighten up and fly right?

    I'm just asking for a little appreciation, that's all.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Preach it, Bastich!

  • emmalita

    Dammit!!! I knew my uncles were doing it wrong.

  • Some uncles are better than others.

  • TK

    This is why I've suddenly started giving my cousin the side-eye whenever he volunteers to "help out" with my son.

  • AvaLehra

    All of my uncles are dead. Thanks for the reminder.

    I'll go sob in the corner now...

  • oilybohunk7

    My mom and dad were both one of two children, their brothers both died before my brother and I were born. I never had an aunt, uncle or first cousin. When my brother had children I channeled the sadness over that into BEING THE BEST AUNT KIM EVER!

  • emily sharples

    I feel your pain. As an aunt to three, I do not get nearly the amount of recognition I am due.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I'm afraid this auntie of ten DOES get the recognition she deserves, by which I mean the reputation of being the "wacky aunt." (I'm really not THAT wacky. Just very much on a plane with my younger nieces & nephews. who sadly aren't even that young anymore.)

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I get it, but you gotta know that the "world's toughest job" thing came out of people belittling the contributions women made. It's nice that we (most of us, I presume) are in a place where it's now unwanted, but that's surely not the case for everyone.

  • DominaNefret

    My mom always tells me that her favorite thing in the world is being a mother.

    This is always amazing to me, because it seems like being my mother would be fucking awful. I was a responsible/considerate kid, but I was fucking difficult. Severe ADHD, anxiety, bipolar 2, severe insomnia since early elementary school. I think back on everything I put them through, and I go "how could being my mom possibly have always been her favorite thing?"

  • emmalita

    I always appreciated my mom's honesty that I was the best and worst part of her life. Sounds about right.

  • TK

    Hey, don't get me wrong - at this point in my life, my favorite thing in the world is being a dad. But it's sure as hell not the only thing.

    In fact, I should amend that to say one of my favorite things. Because whisky. And video games. And sex.

    Not in that order, mind you.

  • DominaNefret

    I think my mom is actually a masochist. She is a middle school librarian, by choice, and she loves it.
    We all know that middle schoolers are THE. WORST.

    So she is/was probably being serious when saying that being a mother is her favorite thing in the world.

    I think she is kind of insane.

  • Of course no in that order. The three should be simultaneous if you're playing Mass Effect the right way.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Because she loves you best.

  • Amazingly we are one of the only households in America entirely void of P&G products. However now that I know that P&G totally supports my daily selfless acts of love as a parent I'm totally going to the store to get some Tide and Pampers. Thank you P&G, you guys are the best!

  • Nell

    I have lurked on this site for years now and this is the first post I felt the need to comment on. I hate, hate, hate being pandered to regarding my motherhood. I have 2 daughters under 2. Is it harder than I expected? Yes, a little. But in so many ways having them has made my life easier. They limit my options and make goals more clear-cut. They give me joy. They are not a job, they are not a constant nuisance, they are love and they are now my life. I work part-time and I love going to work too - it's a nice balance. I feel fulfilled in ways I never thought possible and honestly have never been happier. And I sure as hell don't need any study placing an astronomically high fiscal value on my worth or some pseudo-job interview video to see the value in what I am doing.

  • No I love the studies putting an astronomically high fiscal value on my worth. I need an academically-based number to support the bill I'm going to give to my kids when they're older.

  • TK


  • Only if you keep detailed records. Which is why I do.

  • Mrs. Julien

    When your children are young, you coo, when they grow up, you bill.

  • AvaLehra

    Truth. My kid lost his gloves for the umpteenth time so I said, "That'll be $5." He didn't lose another pair all winter and I got an extra Starbucks that week.

  • Belphebe

    The other day my 2 year old daughter went number 2 in her little potty chair for the first time (big big deal) and while we were doing the potty dance and celebrating, the dog came in and ate what she had deposited. In that moment I was reminded that sometimes being a dog-owner is way fucking harder than being a parent.

    Where is our patronizing commercial dammit?

  • TK

    Careful or someone will start up with those damn Duchovny Purina commercials and then we'll all be sobbing.

  • As I mentioned on an FB post on this: If you're the primary caretaker of your kids and you don't sit down at all, you are a fucking idiot. Ditto for not sleeping. Sure, you're going to have that interrupted. This is when you perfect power napping. If you have a partner, not only do you get to take days off, you NEED to, or you will burn out and be a crappy parent. FFS, people. This isn't a death march. Folks have been doing this for as long as there have been folks. We don't need crowns of thorns, though we might appreciate a nice tiara (or whatever headgear makes you feel good) from time to time.

    We would also like you to take out the garbage, do the dishes, walk the dog, do your homework, clean the bathroom, get your shoes out of the walkway, actually put away your laundry, and turn down the 'splodey video games without having to be told, but that would imply believing in magic, which we all know is absurd. Those totally impromptu hugs, though? Those are great. Keep that up.

    Honestly, why *would* anyone want to do this job the way they laid it out? And why would anyone want to believe that's what their own mothers or fathers actually did? No one is well-served by this sort of bullshit.

  • lmtj

    I am in love with you for this post!

  • Okay, I am reversing my stance on magic. When I got home, my sons had watered the gardens, done the dishes, straightened the living room, wiped down the stove, and swept. The TV was loud, but it was playing a Pandora station of movie soundtracks.

    "What do you want?" I asked.
    "Nothing. It's Good Friday. We had the day off and figured we should be good. Now, you don't have to do any of this tomorrow." (subtext: or nag us to do it.)

    They're messing with my paradigm, which may be its own reward. For everyone, really.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Ugh. Seriously. I have only one child, I'm preserving my amateur status for the Olympics, but patting me on the head and saying "Good for you! You work so hard!" is fantastically patronizing.

  • TK

    And just as bad are those who pat themselves on the head and tell the world how hard they're working, as if the rest of the world is just sitting around eating bonbons in their underpants.

  • kirbyjay

    Why are their bonbons in your underpants?

  • TK

    You mean there aren't in yours? Dude, how do you even go on living?

    I guess that's just how you were raised.

  • blackheart

    You have bonbons in your underpants?

  • Genevieve Burgess

    God, that's always fun. "Oh, gosh, what do you DO with all your free time?" Well, I earned two degrees, wrote a book, work a full time job, travel, write for a website for funsies, hang out with friends, compiled an encyclopedic knowledge of the Game of Thrones books AND TV show, visit my family, run, knit, sew, drink terrible wine, etc. What the hell kind of question is that? Like I just sit around staring at a wall all day.

  • "Oh, gosh, what do you DO with all your free time?"

    Even better answer: prodigious amounts of safe sex. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it, and there's empirical evidence you're incapable of the job requirements.

  • Jiffylush

    SAFE sex, that's what I forgot to do, thanks!

  • TK

    And it's equally idiotic if someone really believes that all they do is be a parent. If that is the whole sum of your existence, then you're a fucking idiot and your child is going to grow up to be an insufferable asshole.

  • Miss Kate're not??? I've been lied to!

  • I'm eating peeps in pajamas. Don't judge me.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I bet they look adorable.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I'm eating a cookie in pajamas. Will that do?

  • bastich

    Why is the cookie wearing pajamas?

  • AvaLehra

    Never change.

  • Mrs. Julien

    It is taking ALL OF MY STRENGTH not to fix my comment.

  • bastich

    Just funnin' ya, Mrs. J. (and ripping off Groucho Marx)

  • Mrs. Julien

    Oh hell, I missed a Groucho reference. I'm so embarrassed, I may leave in a huff. If that's too soon, I may leave in a minute and a huff.

  • Mrs. Julien

    It's only 40F/4C degrees here today.

  • TK

    Oh, snap.

  • Alexander1

    I have often been utterly confused by the whole toughest job in the world. I mean I suppose emotionally sure it ranks amongst the most difficult ones since you never stop fearing for your child's safety hapiness.

    But on a purely practical level? Come on freaking on. That's not like even in the top 10% of toughest jobs. Especially since the kid gets old enough to be sent to hogwarts

    Yes I do realize I am taking this too literally and I shouldn't be comparing mothers to people' who's job it is to manually extract sperm from lions or to give sponge baths to Rush Limbaugh but I can't help myself. I have a very literal mind

  • competitivenonfiction

    Yeah, when I saw that video going around, the first thing I said to my husband was "yeah, the people who's job it is to clear landmines so that other people can start to farm again have it so easy! I changed diapers today... buncha wimps."

  • emilya

    i'm not a mom but i love this post! mommyish is also having a great conversation about this ad and some other mom's have it hardest ads, which lacks the pajiba snark but is totally worth reading.

    sometimes life is hard, sometimes it's easy. some people are parents, some aren't. everyone does things. love your people, enjoy yourself, be sad/frustrated/angry, but for fuck's sake let's stop with the mombie competition and try to enjoy ourselves- even when it's fucking tough to do so.


  • I forgot to add AMERICAN.

  • I could not love you more.

  • bastich

    Crank up the time machine -- we found our Wonder Woman!

  • Mrs. Julien

    Was there a baton? Tell me there was a baton. Lie, if necessary.

  • lowercase_ryan

    you really don't want to be bragging about the Saw thing.

    That said, cheers to you.

  • AvaLehra

    Thank you! This is just like when I hear women complaining about how awful their husbands are. I'm always thinking, "Well you chose to marry the dude." When you choose to become a mother, you choose to become a mother. There will be shitty days, there will be amazing days. I love my kid, and some days I want to kick his little ass out of the house but in all that time I am never like, "WOE. IS. ME. I deserve all of the awards."

    Life is fun and it can be hard...move along.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    I will never understand how the same people who seem to want everyone to have lots of babies always spend so much time telling you how awful it is.

    "Oh, you like to sleep in on weekends? That's nice. YOU'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO DO THAT AGAIN WHEN YOU HAVE BABIES, but they're such a blessing."
    "That's a nice dress, I can't buy things like that because my kids would totally ruin it! So, are you trying yet?"
    "I love my kids so much. Just yesterday, little Olivibella pooped so much we had to throw out a whole outfit, her changing table pad, and the rug beneath her changing table! Isn't that hilarious?"
    "You did a 5K this weekend? That sounds great! I wish I had time to do something like that, but with my little darlings I haven't gotten a full night's sleep in dickety-teen weeks so there's no way I could find the energy for it! You know, are you seeing anyone? You're not getting any younger, after all!"

    Seriously. I have a lot of respect for good parents, and I look forward to being one eventually, but the Professional Parents of the world are doing a terrible job of selling it as something one would aspire to.

  • petitesuissesse

    My reply to them these days (I am pregnant and punchy) is : "don't put your misery on me. Just because it's happening to you, doesn't mean it will happen to me." Also, I'm kind of bitch.

  • Ali2044

    The more children my friends have, the less I want children of my own. One woman complains non-stop about parenting and has now announced they're trying for a second and I just don't even know what to say to that.

  • calliope1975

    I had a friend start on trying to have a second, and I actually asked her if that was the best idea since she continually complained about the one she had. She had the second. And now complains about how hard two are.

    I know she loves her kids, but I don't think she necessarily likes them.

  • Siege

    Our upstairs neighbors have two small children (6 and 2...and one on the way) and keep asking is when we're planning to have some. I have so far restrained myself from saying "Oh gosh, listening to your little monsters scream all day and all night and seeing your sad, tired faces the few times you get to leave the house is certainly encouraging, but I think we're going to pass, thanks!"

  • At the risk of coming off like Captain Patriarchy, my first thought when I saw that commercial was "fathers don't matter."

    If you're going to position parenthood as the "World's Toughest Job" in a mad scramble to win karma points for your cynical corporation, don't give Dads another excuse to mentally check out by assigning all the responsibility to the fairer sex.

  • mairimba

    Nobody wanted to click on this yesterday when I posted it cause it's a Bud Light commercial but watch it.

  • Oh, barf.

  • TK

    Worry not, the dad's version is coming next week and it addresses this very idea.

  • chanohack

    YES. EXACTLY. The dad version will talk about how dads are totally self-sacrificing and have a magical endless well of love and affection. How you can't even talk about them unless you are also a dad, otherwise you just DON'T UNDERSTAND. How we all owe our fathers a debt that we can NEVER REPAY in a billion years. Yeah, that commercial is coming.

  • TK

    No, instead it's the commercial about how we're all bumbling goons who can't even boil water without burning the house down.

  • ^ that

  • I just told this story to TK, but when my husband went out of town once and I mentioned it was a lot of work taking care of our daughter by myself, the response was "oh does he help out a lot?" NO. HE PARENTS. LIKE A PARENT. He's not "helping" me do what is solely my job.

  • Ali2044

    Oh my god, yes! I'm not a mother but my (now ex) boyfriend used to refer to the meagre amount of housework I'd nag him into doing as "helping me out" and I'm like THIS IS YOUR HOUSE TOO, HELP YOURSELF OUT!

  • Nimue

    On of my biggest pet peeves is when people ask if a child's father is "babysitting" his kids. THEY'RE HIS FREAKING KIDS!!! You can't babysit your own kids, you parent them.

  • Kind of reminds me of that Chris Rock bit about fatherhood.

    "You take care of your kids, what do you want - a cookie? THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO."

  • TK

    It's like you're inside my brain.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    Don't forget the part about "Gee Dad, thanks for all this light".

    I gave my dad Bigger and Blacker a few years ago for father's day and he totally loved it.

  • Mrs. Julien

    When Little J complains about being asked to perform a task, I point out all the things we provide and offer to let him do those instead. I also refer to myself as "the nice lady" who does things for him, e.g. the nice lady who made you breakfast, the nice lady who puts away your laundry.

  • stella

    Moms really are the nicest ladies;)

  • eringoblog

    I <3 you, Courtney.

  • InternetMagpie

    I would buy one billion of those cards.

  • Jezzer

    AWESOME. This and STFU Parents give me hope for the interwebs.

  • Michelle

    Hee. You're the best, Courtney.

  • stella

    This is ridiculous. I cant believe youve seen every Saw movie. Seriously though, awesome article.

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