As you’re all aware (provided you haven’t DVR-d past those jewelry commercials and avoided the card and party aisle at the drugstore), this Sunday is Mother’s Day.
Beyond the usual Hallmark cheese, our new digital age has ushered in a new wave of delights in honor of the occasion: viral videos showing (in a imperceptibly condescending manner) just how hard this mothering gig is; flowery status updates about the importance of motherhood clogging up your news feed; and, come Sunday, an onslaught of staged “Mother’s Day 2015” photos from your friends, perpetuating the myth that all of us are perfectly coiffed, perfectly happy, perfectly perfect moms who are perfectly adored by our children.
Don’t get me wrong – I like it. My kids make me great gifts in school (like the card Fearlette brought home yesterday, which included her guess of my approximate age as “72” and my height as 2 feet, which is totally accurate). Sometimes, I get to sleep until 8:30, which is heaven. I’m not kicking this holiday out of bed.
I just wish that, instead of overpriced flowers and jewelry, generic sentiments and hero worship, we could get what we really need for Mother’s Day.
Like subsidized maternity and paternity/partner leave, because having a newborn is hard, and being all alone with what amounts to a tiny terrorist (or several terrorists, if you have multiple children) is easier when there’s two adults around. Safety in numbers and all that.
Like a prenatal experience that actually prepares you for taking care of a baby, and doesn’t pretend that every woman has a supportive partner, money to burn, and the desire to breastfeed, birth naturally, and quit her job.
Like a hospital experience that respects your wishes to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, and is mother-friendly as well as baby-friendly, because pushing a baby out of your vagina/ having major surgery is kind of hard work. Not that being born isn’t hard, too, but why can’t we be friendly to both mom and baby? And while we’re at it, friendly to partner-parents, too?
Like a world that accepts that the term “good mother” doesn’t have one definition, and that what works for me and my child might not work for you and yours, and that’s a beautiful thing, because we aren’t robots. (At least not yet.)
Like more inclusivity for adoptive mothers, on this holiday and every day, because growing a child in your body isn’t a prerequisite for the title of “Mother”, nor has it ever been, or ever will be.
Like an Internet that gives us all the good stuff – support, information at our fingertips, a way to connect with the world even if we’re housebound, stuck inside with a immuno-compromised preemie in the dead of winter/having a hard time getting out of our pajamas, but leaves the bad stuff behind, like the judgment and smug pseudo-science and mommy-board trolls and my-way-or-highway bullies.
Like safe, clean, food-secure environments for all women and their children, because it’s so easy to forget that as we fight about feeding our babies, some women can’t feed themselves.
Like partners and/or family members and/or friends who are always there for us, and who have been given the tools to support us while we are breastfeeding but also respect when we decide not to.
Like care providers who acknowledge that postpartum depression and anxiety are real, and prevalent, and treatable, and worth prioritizing over general recommendations from the World Health Organization or the AAP.
Like accessible and judgment-free lactation assistance and bottle-feeding assistance, without having to take out a second mortgage to afford the help.
Like the realization that mothering extends beyond the first year, and that we will face all sorts of challenges as our kids grow which will give us an opportunity to be amazing or screw it up, and thank god for that, because too many parents have that ripped away from them, and we are so, so lucky to be able to screw our kids up for as long as we can.
Like health recommendation messages that are backed up by hard science but also humanized, because they are being delivered to a group of people who just got hit with a Mack truck of change and upheaval, and who are living in constant fear of all those .001% risks that you make sound like very real possibilities.
Like a magic solution to all the mother-on-mother competition and turmoil, because while it’s human to judge and question, our utterly inhuman method of communication has taken it to an insidiously harmful place where we hide behind screens and levy our judgments without ever having to endure the impact this has on those being judged. The jury of our peers is the least just.
Like a promise that we will stop pressuring women into using their bodies certain ways; assessing their strength and power by their bodily functions; and forcing them into narrow categories based on how they birth, feed, diaper, and transport their babies.
Like any of these things. Even just one.
Or you know. Something from Zales.
Happy Mother’s Day, fearless ones,