I’m sure everyone is busy reflecting on the impact their mothers had on their lives, but I want to do something different and reflect on the impact all mothers AND caregivers have on society.
Motherhood is epitomized as the status women should strive to achieve, but we are only allowed that access if we follow patriarchal, restrictive rules in order to become a mother. Women are taught from day one that their ultimate purpose in this world is to reproduce for the human race. Women are conditioned from childhood to believe that if she does not bear children, her life will amount to nothing.
And aside from all the unrealistic, cisgendered, damaging burdens placed upon women who are mothers, they seem to carry on in a fearless, persistent matter by raising their children in a world that continues to devalue and degrade women.
I want to recognize all mothers out there who are standing on the shoulders of their mothers, struggling to make ends meet and who will never give up despite facing poverty, disease and violence towards them and their children.
We need to recognized all mothers today, not just the ones who fit a certain mold or who are the perfect example of the so-called perfect wife and mother. I know this theme of bashing single motherhood became popular as the No Wedding No Womb “movement” took off late last year, but single mothers continue to be part of our society and they need just as much praise, uplifting and support as those women who chose to get married before having children. Single mothers are just as caring, loving, supportive and worthy of a Happy Mother’s Day as those who are married.
We need to recognize those mothers who decided to keep their children after they were raped or a victim of incest. These women, faced with the burden of explaining to their children how they came into existence, continue to march on in the face of a societal taboo.
Shout out to all the women of color raising children in a world that worships and promotes whiteness as the model for living one’s life. These women are faced with the inevitable talk about racism, prejudice and discrimination their children will likely face at school, on the streets or in their careers. These women are burdened with the task of passing down advice, information and wisdom in navigating a world that seeks to keep their children in second-class citizenship.
We need to recognized the GLBTQ mothers out there who are faced with bigoted comments, governmental policies and stares seeped in a religious, holier-than-thou message cisgendered, heterosexual folks send their way. These women and their families don’t fit into the patriarchal, pro-heterosexual nuclear family mold, but they are just as deserving of a shout out than their traditional counterparts.
We need to recognize mothers living with HIV/AIDS. Faced with expensive medical bills and prescriptions, these women are well aware their condition could turn for the worse, but they keep on trucking for their children.
We need to recognize mothers who face imminent danger or death at the hands of their own partners. Most of these women put themselves in the line of fire from their abusive spouses just to protect their own children.
Peace to the women who decided to become foster parents and to the grandmothers raising their grandchildren. Even though the children in your lives are there due to events beyond your control, they will remember your open heart and open arms and cherish your willingness to take them in.
Finally, we need to praise those working mothers out there, struggling with either being the sole breadwinner or making just enough money for her partner and children to live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. These women are looked down upon because they chose to go back to work; they are ridiculed by so-called pro family values (read: pro hetereo-nuclear family) politicians and activists as selfish and abandoning their children. They are told by the followers of famous doctors, psychoanalysts and advice columnists who continue to believe women are harming their children by not spending every waking moment bonding with them.
But these women realize they don’t want their children to live two paychecks away from poverty, homelessness and hunger, so they struggle with the guilt of returning to a job or career that most likely doesn’t provide adequate maternity leave or child-friendly offices, including private rooms where women can pump breast milk.
Mother’s Day is not about praising one faction of mothers while ignoring and downplaying other groups of women who don’t fit the traditional mode of what a mother is supposed to look and act like. Motherhood isn’t simplistic and monolithic, so our Mother’s Day shout outs shouldn’t be relegated to one group of mothers over another. We need to embrace and praise all the mother’s out there on this day set aside to worship them.