|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|The Morning Mendacity
Sunday, May 8th, 2005
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Spare a thought for mothers on this, their day. When Jane Austen skewered Mrs. Bennet, mother of five in Pride and Prejudice, as “A woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper” it was entirely a case of “what oft was thought but n’er so well expressed”, a theme that dates back to the dawn of literacy: mom as the epitome of all that is hysterical, interfering, ignorant, controlling, capricious, fiercely competitive, yet weak and shallow. The Bennet family’s three younger daughters are appalling, and the blame is squarely laid at their mother’s door. The two eldest are pattern children, and their father gets all the credit. How traditional. How unfair.
Because moms always take the rap. Dads may be detached, remote, distant, but for all that they’re always blameless. Generally incompetent in household affairs, they’re incapable of running the washing machine or roasting a turkey. The funniest scene in the movie The Santa Clause showed a Denny’s full of bandaged single fathers on Christmas eve, treating their kids to dinner out after injuring themselves with exploding roasts. Dads aren’t expected to do Christmas dinner. They have bigger things than gravy on their minds. They’re busy with the important affairs of the world outside the home. Moms take care of domestic trivia, because they’re good at it. Dads are not, and somehow they’re admired for it.
Dad is for going to the park for a game of catch. Mom is for nagging you to pick up your room. Dad is for proposing dinner out and a movie; mom is for making meatloaf. Dad pours your first glass of wine; mom tells you to wash the dishes. Dad drops everything to watch the ballgame on TV; mom tells you not to put your feet on the couch. So it is, and so it has always been. The ancients so took moms for granted, they denied them credit for the one thing they indubitably do that dads generally cannot. When Athena, the goddess of wisdom, first sees the light of day, she’s sprung fully grown and fully dressed from her dad’s head. So much for wombs and years of maternal nurturance, to say nothing of mom’s fashion advice. Moms, the ancients seemed to be saying: who needs them?
If moms are marginalized, stepmoms are downright inimical. Wicked stepmothers threw Hansel and Gretel out of the house, enslaved Cinderella, sent Snow White to cohabitate with seven shrunken old men. Dads may be weak and blind, easily manipulated and a little foolish, but they’re not usually evil.
So on this, their day, spare a thought for mom, always blamed, rarely credited. She changed our first diaper, provided our first meal, could be relied on to wipe a runny nose, bandage a scraped knee, serve up milk and cookies at appropriate times and in sensible quantities, usually when dad wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Who, if not for their mothers, could conceivably harbor warm feelings for Tom DeLay or John Bolton or Dick Cheney? And besides, who ever heard of dad’s apple pie?
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2005
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