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Byron Shire
June 17, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: What Mothers Want

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What mothers want

I don’t want slippers. I don’t want flowers. I don’t want a shitty card with a dumb poem written by some weirdo at Hallmark.

I want you to see what I do. I am happy to share it with you too. I want you to wipe the bench. I want you to put your stuff away. I want you to take out the bins. When the bin is full I want you to change the bag. And if the bin is filthy and covered in weird unidentified rubbish goo then I want you to wash it out. I want you to see that it’s 5pm and the washing is on the line and it’s going to get damp and it’s been there for four days already and it needs to come in. It does not magically appear in your wardrobe. A woman you know well put it there.

I want you to stand for five hours and do my ironing – which is actually your ironing and everyone else’s but somehow mysteriously ‘mine’. I want you to know how to iron something other than your hair. I want you to know where the vacuum cleaner is and how to turn it on and that when it stops working it’s not because it’s broken, it’s because the bag is full and needs replacing. I want you to replace the bag.

I want you to notice that we’re out of toilet paper before we run out of toilet paper. I want you to decide to put the paper on the roll and then… wait for it… put the empty in the bin. I want you to pick up your wet towel. I want you to feed the dog without saying ‘I’ll do it in a minute’ and then half an hour later ‘I’ll do it in a minute’ until I give up and feed the dog or the dog gives up and leaves home.

I want you to take the plates and cups from beside your bed and put them in the sink. I want you to take the stuff in the sink and put it in the dishwasher. Then I want you to put the dishwasher on and then come back an hour later and unpack it.

I want you to change your sheets. I want you to make your bed look pretty like I do. I want you to pick up your undies – but not just your undies – other people’s that you find discarded on the bathroom floor. I want you to think about dinner at breakfast and how to make a meal for a vego, a vegan, a meat eater, and a gluten intolerant.

These are the days of my life. This maternal indenture is what I do every day before I do everything else. It’s the reason I am angry for ‘NO apparent reason’. It’s why I want EVERYONE to notice how much I do and how GREAT everything looks when I’ve done it. I want you to see this boring mindless and endless array of things that I do every day and realise that I actually don’t want to do it either.

It’s the unseen, unvalued, unpaid work of women. It’s boring. It’s work that diminishes you. Not straightaway. It can take years of putting shit away before you find yourself standing in your undies and t-shirt at 5.30am while everyone sleeps, thinking ‘what the F am I doing? Is this my life?’

Why isn’t this on Instagram….#perfectlife? Then when everything is put away, when benches are clear, when clothes are cleaned, when bins are empty, you sit for a moment and have a cup of tea knowing that this is the moment when it’s all perfect, and that soon it will be undone. Which is fine. Because life is entropy – a constant move to disorder – it would just be nice to have a few other dickheads helping push our universe back to order.

Instead of trending mindfulness, how about sharing the daily mindlessness? I guess it’s why they call childbirth ‘labour’. It’s a warning. Not about the piercing 12 hours of 10cm cervix dilation. In comparison, that’s easy. Pushing a head out my twat was nuthin’. I’m talking about the following twenty-plus years of service dilation – where I continue to expand my capacity for meaningless output for decreasing appreciation. That is labour. Where the brightest, most ambitious, most creative, most amazing of us are found on a sunny Sunday on all fours scrubbing dog shit from a carpet. ‘She could have been anything she wanted,’ the crowd whispers, ‘but look how good she is at shit removal!’

If you do nothing else, please, NOTICE what we do! And praise our enduring selflessness. You’re crazy not to, because with a little bit of acknowledgement we’ll keep at it for another decade. Of course we’ll keep whingeing. Remember, there’s no point suffering if no-one sees. Happy martyrs day!

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  1. You mean you are like all females, you want money.
    That is why you are going to get a Hallmark card, flowers or slippers.

  2. Mothers’ Day. Grandmothers’ Day… all the same day/week/month/year. Interesting reaction-concept, Len. I’m the Female that for a short time kept the lazy useless husband. Paid the bills my married daughter could not deal with. Worked 3 jobs to ‘buy the interest in their house’ so her children would have a roof over their heads. Was always there & when needed, managed to find the money to pay my family’s rates,reading glasses & hand out needed[?] cash at a grand a visit. Still, being ‘classified’ as a not-for-real-mother during heated exchanges because I worked & didn’t do the ‘beauty parlour’ thing D-day called. You got it. I left the lot. That’s what Great-Grandmothers’ do – it’s a no-brainer. I’ll get no Hallmark card because I don’t suffer users gladly & I know there are many women like me… & they don’t want money either. It’s an insulting thought.

  3. Right on Mandy! The sooner ungrateful dependent children realise it’s time to help mum/dad, the better! Cleaning up after yourself is a much need skill to learn. And in a parent’s case, it leaves more time to spend with the kids if the load is shared. Cleaning up after yourself and being responsible for your own shit, leaves NOTHING for anyone else to do! Makes everyday a “Mother’s Day! (Pets excluded)

  4. We share some of the same concerns.I hate it when the toilet roll doesnt get changed but my partner promises she will try harder in the future

  5. My main complaint is the slipperiness of gender, once women were responsible for all the human sin, an artifact in history now, now men are all responsible for that artifact. Like aboriginal problems all started with captain cook who was just charting coastlines really. You can be a good coastline charter or a good provider, you’re still male, white, a meat eater, the wrong everything. I never had these problems with my partner, she cld commiserate in such matters, just took everything I had. Still I’d have her back. Histories are such, the public rote and the private impenetrables. Like nothing changes. Everything changes to the day we notice, and then it’s too late. Then we write about it.


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