By Estelle Sobel Erasmus
Procter & Gamble, a corporation noted for their support of moms sponsored a very popular ad in honor of the 2012 London Olympic Games that my husband emailed to me thinking I’d like it. While I watched it I did wipe away a tear, and then I felt a little frustrated…just a little.
Here is the ad:
The admittedly heart-tugging ad shows mothers from several continents do the everyday work of mothering, that every parent is familiar with— waking the kids, cooking for and feeding them, getting them out of the house on time to get on the bus. These children, are different, however, these children are destined to be Olympic champions. So we see them through early childhood, later teen years and finally achieving their (and their moms) dream of being an Olympic athlete.
Ok. The support and nurturing part I get. What I find a little irksome is that interspersed between the nurturing, hugs, kisses, proud smiles, are mothers doing the “work” of mothering: cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, taking the kids to the bus and other acts of caretaking. The role of mother to support, nurture, well, isn’t that also the role of parenting—so where is the father in this whole scenario? Off somewhere to the side; definitely not involved in the “work” of parenting or even co-parenting.
The tagline of the ad:
The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world
Thank you, mom
This Procter & Gamble commercial honors everything that all moms do to help their children succeed by showcasing the amazing moms behind Olympic athletes at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The company also has an official “Thank You, Mom Facebook Page—with over 550,150 likes and counting. The pages allow its fans to read about P&G products, see notes from athletes and learn about the latest London Olympic games news. The page also includes an app where you can thank your mother using pictures, words or even videos. As a part of the P&G Thank You Mom promotion, P&G has committed to raise $5 million to support local youth sports programs in many countries, through a portion of sales and donations from the company’s brands.
Here’s the thing: Procter & Gamble has spent a lot of money to celebrate the work of mothering.
But, I must still ask: why isn’t the work of mothering separate from the role of mother? It is expected that cooking, cleaning, laundry is just what moms do. Also, did any of these mothers work outside the home for income?
At any rate, this is less a P& G issue than a societal issue; however, I hope P&G can give a balanced viewpoint when it comes to their treatment of father’s day.
But, Corporate America, I’m putting you on notice that I don’t want to see more of these “mother is the best” ads. P&G did it and did it well.
Instead, put your money where your ad is, and work to get mothers resources; support us for fair wages, paid family leave, paid sick time, affordable pre-school, support for women who lose out in retirement because they have been out of the workforce.
We can let go of the sentiments; we can’t let go of the need for progress.
Now that you’ve seen the ad, what do you think about it?
Estelle Sobel Erasmus is an activist, blogger, journalist, a supporter of mothers’ and women’s rights, and will be speaking at the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement on Rebelling Against ‘Mom': Finding Fulfillment Beyond the Media’s Myths of Motherhood in mid-May.