Letters to the editor, February 2018: ‘No wonder moms are resentful’

Maclean’s readers write in on our cover story about regretful mothers, and other stories from February 2018

If you would like to respond or add new insight to a story or opinion piece in Maclean’s or on macleans.ca, send your letters to the editor to [email protected]. Letters should run no more than 250 words and should include your name and place of residence. If yours is chosen to be added to the month’s compilation of letters, it may be edited and/or condensed for clarity before being appended to this post.

Mommy dearest

Thank you for publishing an article that explores how difficult motherhood is (“ ‘I regret having children,’ ” Society, February 2018). But the piece is misguided in its focus. We live in a society that sets up women for motherhood to be difficult. Mothers feeling regret is a symptom of a much larger problem. It takes a village to raise a child, but we don’t live in villages anymore. No single person can be an entire village, yet that is precisely what mothers are expected to be. The goal shouldn’t be to reduce sexism a little bit; it should be to eliminate it altogether, along with the economic pulls that demand more of our time and attention at work and less with family and friends, norms that isolate families and mothers, and with class structures that expect us to pay for services the village used to provide. And then there’s the stereotyping of men whereby we don’t teach boys emotional literacy or how to care for people and shared spaces. Regret is a form of self-blame. It is decidedly unhelpful. What is helpful is to turn our attention away from how we act in a troubled system and toward changing the set-up that makes motherhood so difficult, even for those who enter it after careful consideration. Imagine a world where becoming a mother didn’t require women to choose between home and career, didn’t strain marriages, didn’t isolate women—a world where “mother” isn’t the primary identifier of women with children. Parenthood isn’t just about parents. We’re all in this together.

Sarah Margles, Toronto

I read your article about regretful mothers and oh, I have so much to say. I always wanted children. My husband and I, after a series of miscarriages, adopted two siblings four years ago. We were of mature age then and had a few accomplishments in our lives. Of course, I’d heard that parenting is the hardest job on the planet. And yet nothing prepares you for that job, even if you think you are ready. I probably wouldn’t mind being a parent at all if I had more time for myself. But how is that even possible? The economics of parenting is so unfair. My husband and I both have to work full-time to be able to support our family. One income is just not enough. My husband does the mornings and drops the kids off at school. At 5 p.m., I pick them up from school, and my second shift begins. Parenting involves many daily household chores, at least three hours per parent each weekday and five hours daily on weekends. Total: 100 hours on average per month. How much are we being paid for that? The federal and provincial governments pay my household $550 a month for two children, or $5.50 per hour, about 50 per cent of minimum wage in most provinces. Divide it by two children and for the two parents involved and you get $1.38 per hour. So, how do we make parenting easier? How do we help parents not feel exhausted, trapped, financially ruined? Why not recognize parenting as being as important as any other job and pay it a minimum wage? The government already knows how much parenting costs. They use it in the foster care system to pay foster parents. Depending on the child’s age and needs, it varies from $26 to $55 an hour in Quebec. See the difference? If I was getting half of that, I would be able to not work outside the house. I could have time for myself and not feel guilty about going to choir practice because I’m taking that precious time from my family. How do you expect young people to want to have children if all they hear and see are those two things—no time for yourself and financial constraints? We are encouraged to save for post-secondary education, with government grants and incentives, yet so little is done to support parents. So yes, if I had another chance, I wouldn’t have children.

Tatiana K., L’Île-Bizard, Que.

Interesting article regarding the choice to have kids. Most of the women interviewed appeared to still be in the process of raising their children, a period that can be challenging. I am of an older generation and have raised five children, very close together, and even though there were challenges, I can say that neither my wife nor I ever had regrets. She was a stay-at-home mom, which can bring about its own hardships, but nonetheless, the happy times far outweighed the bad times. We are now in our twilight years and thankfully missed the “Me Generation.” As the breadwinner of the family, I did my best to contribute to raising our children, but realize the bulk of the work fell to my wife. Our children are now all raised and are well-adjusted, but I should add that they are our best friends and I’m thankful every day for their being in our life; I’m sure my wife feels the same way. I visit my wife every day, as she is in a long-term-care facility, and it does sadden me to see residents who receive no visits from family. A lot of them are childless. My children visit when possible, not out of obligation but out of the enjoyment of visiting their mother.

William L. Strong, Kingsville, Ont.

We are a historical aberration. In agrarian times, families lived in villages with extended families of up to 400 people. Mothers were not alone in a house with children. They had jobs to do, and around them were family members to help with child care. As homes became separated from community services and often lacked interaction with neighbours, mothers became isolated. Unlike in the boomer past, when children were kicked outside to fill unstructured time, children are now inside, glued to screens or ferried to programmed activities. Mothering is much more restrictive—no wonder moms are resentful.

Linda Easton, Port Stanley, Ont.

I think your February 2018 cover story is absolutely terrible. It is an indication that these days it’s every man or woman for him- or herself. It is a sign of a self-centred society too focused on instant gratification. Has materialism taken over the world? Being a mother is the best job ever.

Jackie Smith, West Vancouver

Burning down the house

Your editorial was well-formulated (“A point of order,” Editorial, February 2018). Taking it one step further, since backbench (and opposition) MPs just parrot what the party executive tells them to say, does the House of Commons really matter anymore? All decisions are made by the PMO, so having journalists report on question period is pointless. They should just report what the PMO and opposition parties’ offices spout; the rest is noise.

Paul Larocque, Markham, Ont.

Perils of weed

Not only does your article about the teenage brain (“The teenage brain on weed,” Health, February 2018) show negative bias, but it is factually incorrect in stating that Canada is in a “rush to legalize marijuana,” and also that “the country hurtles toward legalization.” Give me a break! Legalization has been considered seriously since the government of Canada’s Le Dain Commission of 1969 to 1973. Forty-five years represents a lot of deliberation and many lives ruined by needless convictions. Forty-five years!

Rob Graham, Claremont, Ont.

As a mother and a health care professional who studies the science of addiction and drug use in my retirement armchair, I am extremely concerned about the prospect of legalized marijuana. There are bright spots: legalization of cannabis will establish safety by controlling purity and hopefully disrupt black-market involvement. However, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Canadian pediatricians, the Canadian Medical Association, the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook, Marijuana Anonymous, family physicians and Health Canada are all far too quiet. July 2018 is less than six months away—we need to hear your combined voices above the political din. This article, with sound investigation and clear eloquence, describes what I believe to be true about cannabis. Parents, beware.

Catherine Hammill, Kincardine, Ont.

Electoral non-reform

The Liberals need to regain the trust of this voter (“Mid-life crisis,” Politics, December 2017). An independent investigation from the United Kingdom lists the following risks if there is no electoral reform: loss of mandate and legitimacy to govern, loss of political equality, loss of dialogue, loss of effective political recruitment, the rise of undemocratic forces and the risk of “quiet authoritarianism.” This is one voter who considers the Prime Minister’s campaign promise of reform to have been a proverbial campaign promise, given to get votes and never intended to happen. The Prime Minister should be included in the “dustbin of history.” A word for Maclean’s: your lack of attention to electoral reform indicates an attitude of “if you ignore it, it will never have happened.” This voter has lost faith in the ability of the media to truthfully inform the public, particularly on the issue of electoral reform.

Ray Jones, Kamloops, B.C.

Trump’s demise?

David Frum opines that should American Democrats regain Congress in 2018, it would be folly to impeach Trump barring “a highly credible set of extremely damning facts” (“David Frum on Trumpian harm,” Society, February 2018). But perhaps karma (or the Mueller team) will intervene and bring Trump’s entire house of cards down. Surely someone like Trump, who has bullied, lied and cheated his entire life, deserves no less. Canadians can only hope for such an outcome as we witness the erosion of democracy south of the border.

Glenda Komenac, Elkford, B.C.

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