Episode 3 of Shrews Untamed Podcast

When Mother’s Day 2020 came around, we couldn’t let it pass without giving it the Shrews Untamed treatment, and seeing how it looked after a bit of pot-stirring.

I asked myself questions like: What’s the significance of the date? Why do the shops fill with carnations, flowers and chocolates? Heck – why do we celebrate Mother’s Day at all, and what does the way we celebrate it say about women’s place in Western culture?

Jay asked herself what being a mother really means – what are the cultural expectations, and do they help us or hurt us? That meant we had to talk about the Emotional Load, unpack how we censor what we really want to keep the family in balance.

Whats Mother’s Day like for women who aren’t mothers? We speak with Vivienne*, a woman who always wanted a child and for reasons out of her control, never had one. How Mother’s Day has triggered her in the past – how the role of woman-as-mother has impacted her.

We’ll also tell you the basic structure – such as it is! – for our podcasts from here.

A: we think it’s cool (and totally stole this idea from podcasts such as The High Low and Deviant Women) and also

B: we put together this podcast every week with the 0.2 seconds we have ‘spare’ so it makes sense.

C: Also it’s nice to be surprised by what the other has to say because essentially, this pod is just an extension of every conversation we’ve had over Facebook messenger in 3 years.

This is an episode where I urge you to check the show notes: there was so much goodness, so much wealth, some areas we could only skim over instead of diving deep like we wanted to. It’s already a good sitting, so grab a cup of your fave beverage, and get ready for a mother of an episode.

Here’s a taster of Episode 3:

What is Mothers Day to you? Is it the day your family gets together to pay tribute to you as queen of the household, the day you’re rewarded with interest for all the loving and the work of caring you do – not to mention, having your kids live inside you for 10 months, giving birth to them, then holding them in your arms and in your heart, and all the other stuff that comes after that? 

As Jane Caro says, motherhood is a:

dirty, earthy, messy business from beginning to end; sperm, blood, shit, vernix, meconium, mysterious ‘waters’, colostrum, breast-milk, mucous, snot, tears, vomit – you name it, mothers either excrete it themselves or must clean it up when excreted by others.

In the lead-up to Mother’s Day, we see a sanitized and sentimentalised vision of motherhood: The attractive catalogue mums with carefully dishevelled hair wear cute pyjamas and fuzzy dressing gowns in pastels, surrounded by a ridiculous amount of soft furnishings, while being enthusiastically spoiled and adored by their equally attractive husbands and children. This leads me to my next question:

Is Mothers Day reduced to another capitalist dash for cash, blithely hailing mothers while the machinery of capitalist liberalism grinds us  into the ground and gaslights us on the amount of blood, sweat and tears in the actual work of mothers’ unpaid caring every other day? Is it just another ‘special’ [I’m doing quotation marks] day where we’re groomed to consume weeks in advance? 

The emotional load is the energy usually women, often mothers, have responsibility for to manage not only their work life, home life, but also all of the invisible work. The remembering. The who has to be where and what that means 5 years down the track, the decision making about when to even think about getting braces for a kid, 

More importantly, the task of managing their own emotions PLUS juggling their partners feelings in order to get life done

Get Shrews In Your Ears:

Happy Mother’s Day, for those who celebrate it, however you celebrate it; for those who would have loved to celebrate it, and for those who have fractured relationships with their mothers, we send you kindness and understanding.


Show Notes

At Shrews Untamed we’re into crediting the work we think enough of to use to bolster an argument, share ideas, and adds so much to our discussions. Thank you to the following sources we’ve used to fact-check, investigate, and back up our claims to make our Mother’s Day and Emotional Load episode. [And thankyou Jay Crisp Crow for letting me borrow your show notes for this one]

Mother’s Day Brief Histories

Stephanie Coontz, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap

Julia Ward Howe and the Mother’s Day Proclamation

Modern Mothers Day– this Wikipedia entry is thoroughly referenced and a very good account of (American) Mother’s Day and it’s founder, Anna Jarvis

More Anna Jarvis:

Wikipedia – Yes, ABC**, I used wikipedia in this one. It was a through, well-supported, and surprising read.

Mother’s Day 100-year history a colorful tale of love, anger and civic unrest

I verified some things by taking a quick look at the history of West Virginia

Mother’s Day in US and Australia – Anna Jarvis, Janet Heyden

More Janet Heyden

‘And Suddenly, There’s a Story’ – Helen Garner’s essay extract (behind paywall)

When You’re Not a Mother on Mothers Day

The Most Undervalued Women in America are Childless Aunts

Mother’s Day – Don’t Make Me Laugh – Jane Caro

Making Women’s Unpaid Work Count – Anne Manne

COVID19 has laid bare how much we value women’s work, and how little we pay for it

Emotional Labour descriptor

You Should Have Asked – Emma

Stop Calling Women Nags – Harpers Bazaar

Lucky Orange Pants Social Media Post

The Concept Creep of ‘Emotional Labour’

Please Stop Calling Everything That Frustrates You Emotional Labor – Haley Swenson

Why was everyone talking about emotional labour in 2018?

I Live With a Woman—We’re Not Immune to Emotional Labour

Tender L Creative

The Power of Women’s Anger – Soraya Chemaly

How to Get a Break From the Mental Load of Motherhood

The ‘mental load’ falls squarely on mother’s shoulders—and it’s making us very tired

And thanks to Stacy and Kylie, Jay’s friends who allowed her to quote them for this pod.

*Not her name

**Not so long ago Australia’s National Broadcaster thought it might be cool to poke fun at the pandemic-induced spike of new podcasts. Some of the jibes included deriding people who used wikipedia, and people who were podcasting to just their stupid mates. With around 3K downloads so far of our not-so-humble thoughts and opinions I like to give a big up yours to them.

%d bloggers like this: