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Every year, some hand-wringing starts up in my church about how we'll address mother's day. This open letter to pastors said it well this year - too many churches come out with the generic "We just love moms, take them out to brunch!" message, and ask all the mothers in church to stand up and be recognized. Ladies if you had three miscarriages in the past 18 months, sit down, you didn't make the cut, better luck next time. It's weird, and awful.

On the other hand, my progressive church wants to make the holiday about healing. As a new mother I remember holding my tiny baby, sleep deprived, scared, and the message I heard was that God loves us all and provides the grace we need if our mothers have TOTALLY screwed us up. I mean there are some BAD moms out there. So many people need this holiday to be about getting over their mothers. I looked down at my baby and thought, "Sorry kid. you're doomed. I'm doomed. We're doomed... start hating me now. I'll never be able to say sorry enough, will I?"

I just don't like the holiday, period. I don't want to be celebrated with generic flowers, cards, and brunch. I really do not want to spend my Sunday shuffling my noisy kids through a restaurant to "honor" my own mother and mother in law out of obligation and tradition. I am tired. Tired of thinking about how to do this all right, tired of honoring each woman's choices one at a time to make it clear I am not offending anyone and we're all just hunky dory.

Which got me realizing... we're not even all hunky dory happy, on any day of the year. If so many of us are uncomfortable with this holiday maybe that's what the holiday should be about. If being a woman is so complicated because we put so much emphasis and pressure on motherhood, why are we throwing out some flowers and calling it a truce? Is this really what the holiday was supposed to be about?

aliki left this comment in my journal on Administrative Assistants day that keeps replaying in my head... "the only professions that get 'appreciated' are ones where they are grossly underpaid. You know, like Administrative Professional Appreciation Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, Nurse Appreciation Day... nobody needs an Engineer Appreciation Day or Manager Appreciation Day because they make tonnes of money more than Admins and Nurses, etc."

Hey wait. Yes.

And then I read about the history of mothers day - started back when women had to churn their own butter and have nine babies without epidurals, they did not ask for a holiday of appreciation. They asked for a day of peace, stop taking our sons off to war. It wasn't celebrating their choices, fortunes or healing. It was about what they all REALLY wanted.

Do we really want something? I live in the United States, the only industrialized nation with no paid parental leave. Where my idiot Kansas governor cuts school funds every year. Where childcare expenses cripple young families, and so many mothers don't feel like they have any choice about whether to work or not work - they work for health insurance, and send their pay to daycare, or they have to quit because their families can't afford it.

We live in a place where colorado gave out free IUDs and drove down abortion rates but then the program was cut because conservative lawmakers thought IUDs were too much like abortion, a fertilized egg is a human even if there's no test for it and girls you will have those babies if you were "irresponsible"!

We live in a place where systemic violence against black men is taking sons from their mothers every day with no justice. Barely now, finally this year, the media is starting to learn to show those mothers.

What's it all about? Why do we have this holiday to "appreciate mothers!" and then screw them over as best we can the other 364 days a year? The symbol of mothers day shouldn't be a carnation, it should be a middle finger.

This isn't about individuals, this is about our group getting ignored and marginalized. It's time for this holiday to circle back around, I want protests for mothers day again, rallies and blog posts and marches in the street. I'd feel great about that. Honored, even. And it wouldn't leave anybody out because it wouldn't be about me or you it could be about everybody.

Wouldn't you feel better?


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 9th, 2015 08:55 pm (UTC)
*stands up and applauds*
May. 9th, 2015 09:18 pm (UTC)
Count me in! I lead a relatively privileged life, having escaped the trap of being a secretary back when I was young (because I was blonde and could type - the MA meant nothing). I had some leave when both my kids were adopted, even if it was much less than what birth parents got.

But my country claims to support kids and yet the universal child care promised the year my son was born is still nowhere on the horizon. He will graduate from university in a year. We have an abuse and murder rate among aboriginal women that is shocking. And though we don't have high rates of femicide, or genital mutilation, or child and early forced marriage, we live in a world that does.

I will honour my mom with a home-baked cake early next week, but that's because she's 80 and doesn't bake much any more, and my dad likes cake. The fact that she was a pretty radical feminist back in the day and she did a helluva good job raising my sister and I to be just like her (or even more so) is something I try to celebrate every day.

May. 9th, 2015 11:55 pm (UTC)
second this!!

why is the origins not ever taught? sigh.... D came home learning how to give moms pedicures and a bottle of nail polish and of course, the usual making a card and some gift item. It was sweet of course, but I don't get it at all.

And then I read this, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/05/09/398832815/taking-mom-out-for-brunch-it-s-kind-of-a-feminist-tradition?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20150509
May. 10th, 2015 01:05 am (UTC)

I agree, and love the idea of Mothers Day being about justice.  I imagine that a church would be a great starting point for that. Mothers Day rallies at prisons and schools! let's make it happen!

unrelated: idiot is a slur, and 'cripple' used in this way is problematic because it refers to physical disability as if it is inherently a problem. But many (most?) of the problems that physically disabled people face have to do with the way society is structured rather than lack of walking legs (for instance). It's better not to use disability or disease to describe problems, maybe something like "traps" or "burdens" or "hobbles" (not entirely sure about that last one but i think it refers exclusively to the tying of limbs together to prevent running).

May. 10th, 2015 01:43 am (UTC)
In Mormon culture, Mother's Day has evolved into a celebration of womanhood, rather than of mothers only, and I love that. Every woman over the age of 18 is invited to stand at church.

I remember studying Virginia Woolf in college, and her argument against war was that it was unfair to mothers, and I thought, huh, that's interesting. Now that I am a mother, I totally get it.
May. 10th, 2015 11:24 am (UTC)

Brilliant rant. I am glad I friended you.
May. 11th, 2015 12:36 am (UTC)
My husband made a good point the other day that future generations will look back on our generation and feel ashamed of us, the way we are ashamed of the way our ancestors had slaves.  He was talking about the way we let people starve or die from easily treatable diseases in Third World countries, but I think (hope) future generations will also be ashamed of the way women were treated in 2015.

(Unrelated, I sent you a message through LiveJournal. Just wanted to make sure you got it.)
May. 17th, 2015 12:25 am (UTC)
I'm standing and applauding.

Of course, I'm also the same person who ended up getting defriended on Facebook becauase I posted on Mother's Day that "if you really love your mother or someone who is a mother in your life as much as you claim on Facebook, make some change in the United States by insisting that we provide federally mandated parental care."

Mothers are underappreciated, overworked, and tired. We don't need flowers and cute cards and handprints of our kids, or kitchy gifts bought by some well-meaning person that is supposed to come from our toddler with our first initial carved into it.

Please, give me health care. Give me insurance. Give me parental leave. Lower the cost of childcare.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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