“Kate wins Mother’s Day,” my friend and mother of a little leaguer said. “Red dress, heels, holding the prince up hours after giving birth. Kate Middleton definitely wins Mother’s Day.”
“Nobody wins Mother’s Day,” I said.
“This is America,” she corrected. “Everything is about winning.
“Even motherhood?” I asked.
“Especially motherhood,” she sighed.
“I never noticed,” I said. (Maybe I was blinded by my mom’s unique style. She could have taught Tiger Mom a thing or two about pushing her kids.)
Maybe my young friend has a point. Princess Kate and a lot of celebrities feel obligated to post shots of themselves getting the bikini beach bod back within hours of giving birth because that’s the best way to honor the divine feminine within, and it’s exactly what Mother Mary did the day after Christmas. As my friend informed me, non-celebrity mothers also have to contend, if not compete with stage mothers, soccer moms, Tiger Moms and helicopter parents.
Perhaps because of the quickening pace of social and technological changes we’ve experienced this century, moms, dads and kids seem to be more anxious and more competitive. The nurturance and cooperation often associated with motherhood (and confident relaxed kids), seems to have been overshadowed by a more insecure militant mothering mindset. (Anxiety anyone?)
The 18-year-olds buying Mother’s Day cards this week and graduating in June have been through a lot of social changes in their formative years, and so have their mothers. When moms of today’s graduates brought them into the world, the Columbine shooting was an aberration that led to the Million Mom March. On Mother’s Day 2000, three-quarters of a million people showed up at the National Mall in D.C. to demand sensible gun regulations.
The original “Million Mom March” was the first mass activism action I participated in. At the urging of my wife and mother of three young children, we drove from Wilmington to D.C. to raise our voices with the rest. It’s baffling the “sensible gun regulations” called for then have yet to be written and we have instead embraced our embarrassing allegiance to the sacred gun. It’s sad some of the students graduating and walking out of schools this year may have been walking around the Mall 18 years ago in utero.
As today’s 18-year-olds took their first steps, the 9/11 attacks brought the Twin Towers down, and spiraled their mother’s and the rest of us into an endless war on terror; a slow, steady paranoia; and an increasingly hostile, increasingly economically and politically polarized society. It’s also a society that—despite women in combat, the #MeToo movement and a slowly increasing number of women in positions of power (or perhaps because of it)—seems intent on denying equal rights to women in healthcare, in the economy, in politics, and definitely in Iowa.
I’m still not sure anyone can “win” Mother’s Day, but if we wanted to actually “honor thy mother,” there are plenty of actions we might consider.
We could accept Roe vs. Wade and move forward to universal healthcare to free women from both employer-based insurance policies and plans that are biased toward “family” plans. An unintended consequence of our current insurance-driven healthcare system is it stacks the deck against women from conception to grave.
We could actually pay teachers and fund education adequately. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 75 percent of public school teachers in America are women. Shredding our education budgets every political cycle disproportionately hurts women. It’s like honoring your mom by hiring Harvey Weinstein.
We seriously could consider former Supreme Court Justice Stevens’ suggestion to repeal the 2nd Amendment and replace it with clearer language about the rights and responsibilities of gun owners and the extent of government regulation. If the short clauses in the 2nd are so clear, so self-explanatory, then why are we still arguing so passionately over its interpretation?
While we’re giving our Constitution a makeover, we might revisit and finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment—explicitly giving women the same legal status we now give EXXON would be a great way of saying, “Thanks, Mom!” and move us a step closer to “winning” Mother’s Day.