>Reflections on Mother’s Day

>The commercialization of Mother’s Day (and other holidays) has made it harder for people to reflect on the significance of meaning behind that second Sunday in May. The History Channel has a brief, yet great video on the history of Mother’s Day.

When I think of Mother’s Day, I think of all the sacrifices my mother made for me and my three sisters to have a better life than she did. I think of all the time she spent making sure we were comfortable, while often forgoing her own comfort.

Mother’s Day for me is also a time to think about other mothers and some of the pain and suffering many around the globe are facing due to many circumstances. Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times has a great blog entry about the many organizations that have been working to make motherhood safer.

Okay, you’ve handed over the flowers and taken your mother/wife/daughter/sister to brunch — and now you’re thinking about doing something for motherhood generally. My Sunday column suggests some steps to make motherhood safer, and here are some organizations active in this space.

Maternal health has generally gained attention and resources in the last few years. The White Ribbon Alliance is a coalition of organizations active in reducing the number of women dying in childbirth. Women Deliver is an advocacy group focusing on maternal health. Among the big aid groups, both CARE and Save the Children have been very active in maternal health. I also recommend Save the Children’s annual report on the World’s Mothers. 

This is also a focus for organizations like Engender Health and the International Women’s Health Coalition. And then there are the tiny initiatives, like Edna Adan’s Maternity Hospital in Somaliland. Every year I get a check from the Agriculture Department for not growing crops on land I own in Oregon, and I send the money on to Edna for her hospital. For a simple step anyone can take, check out Mom’s Rule, a site calling on G8 countries to add maternal health to their summit agenda.

For those interested in easing the burden of obstetric fistula, the leaders are the Fistula Foundation and the Worldwide Fistula Fund. A new addition is Healing Hands of Joy, which trains fistula patients in outreach efforts to reduce maternal mortality. Of course, there are many more great groups in the maternal health space, and for those of you with experience in the area, please suggest them in comments below. And I’d welcome any thoughts on how to celebrate Mother’s Day (or Mothers’ Day) and other holidays….

I ask all my readers that when you begin to place a phone call to the woman who brought you into this world or think of the only woman you can trust and rely on, think of the women who struggle to gain the basic rights, access to health care and liberties many of our mothers have come to cherish.