Last year on Mother’s Day, I was walking through the grocery store when I ended up in the greeting card aisle. I was there for an anniversary card for my parents, but I glanced over at the Mother’s Day cards and saw that the selection was completely picked over. A few random cards remained and as I looked them over, I couldn’t help but smile. My smile was not one of content. Instead, it was one of those cynical, sarcastic smiles I get when I feel exasperated with the world around me.
As I stood there smirking at the empty, ransacked shelves, all I could think was: Mission accomplished.
Another Mother’s Day in the book and another big payday for Hallmark. (Sorry to pick on Hallmark, but if you want to be the gold standard for your industry then you need to be prepared for some criticism.) When can we stop pretending that this day isn’t anything more than a ploy to sell cards and flowers?
I know there is someone out there ready to point out that this is a day to appreciate mothers and all that they do. They will say that Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate and honor those women who give themselves so selflessly for their children. I’m not so sure I can agree with that.
Once upon a time, Mother’s Day WAS about celebrating mothers.
Anna Jarvis created the day as an opportunity to celebrate her own mother and women like her. But after some time, even she denounced the day as nothing more than blatant commercialism. If this is a day meant to celebrate women, then why are so many women avoiding this day?
For the last few years, I have taken notice of the many women and men who are in pain because of this so-called holiday. Now, you might argue that it’s the company I keep (I am an active member in the pregnancy and infant loss community), but the company I keep is a large community and they are not the only ones hurting on this day. There are thousands of individuals who dread this day and all that comes with it.
It angers me that a day meant to empower women is leaving so many ravaged by their vulnerabilities.
It’s been almost a year since I stood in that greeting card aisle. Mother’s Day is again approaching and this year I want to take action. I want to consider not only the intentions of this oft maligned day, but I want to examine it’s impact.
This year I’m going to leave the cards on the shelf and do my part to take back Mother’s Day.
This year, I’m going to take the money I would typically spend on cards and instead invest it in an organization that supports mothers and families. I will do so in honor of my own mother and the mothers everywhere who make my life more beautiful. I want to honor their maternal spirit by giving to mothers in need and there is no shortage of mothers who need support.
Mothers around the world are in crisis. More than 700 women in the United States will die this year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth with black women being three times more likely to die. One in four women will have a pregnancy that results in the loss of their baby. All mothers are at risk to be impacted by issues of maternal mental health and a lack of maternity leave or other resources to help care for their child and themselves. It’s time to step up and take care of our mothers.
So, this year I’m going to take my own small step in supporting mothers.
Imagine the impact that Hallmark and other companies could have if they joined suit. If these companies really cared about honoring mothers, then maybe they can commit themselves to better options for paid parental leave for their employees. Instead of spending our resources on manufacturing “stuff” for moms, we could use our resources to raise awareness about the issues that are impacting mothers everywhere.
Mothers need more than greeting cards and pre-cut flowers, they need CHANGE.
And I want to be part of that change. I want to think about ways to honor and empower ALL mothers and mother-figures. They have helped to raise us and it’s time to return the favor and raise them up even higher.
Below are some suggestions of organization that support mothers and their families. Please consider donating to their causes or sharing about their mission in honor of a mother you know and love.
- Every Mother Counts
- Black Mamas Matter Alliance
- The Blue Dot Project
- Star Legacy Foundation
- Pregnancy After Loss Support
I would love to hear your ideas for taking back Mother’s Day. Share in the comments below.