Mother's Day

I'm about to call my mom to wish her a happy Mother's Day. And I'm glad there's a day to honor this axis of her subject, this fraction of all that she is, and there's so much more: She's a breast cancer survivor, a watchdog when it comes to local politics (always getting mad when yet another person embezzles money from the city), a quick thinker, and she does right by everyone she knows. I can't think of anyone who knows her and doesn't respect and love her. But I'd be remiss if I didn't point out today that motherhood is revered in rhetoric and reviled in policy, to paraphrase Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels. The discursive construction of motherhood is damaging to so many women; I'm reminded of one of flea's posts, which sticks with me:

I'm angry that so many of us live our lives with that nagging fear that we could lose our children if we fuck up in front of the wrong person, or even if the wrong person misinterprets what they're seeing. I am angry that baseball players get paid millions of dollars for only doing their job well 33% of the time but mothers don't get paid dick and are vilified for not batting a thousand. I'm angry that I've internalized all this Martha Stewart/Baby Einstein/Perfect Celebrity Mom bullshit, even though I'm fighting it as hard as I can.

I wish it were different. I wish we could detail our fuckups without fear, because God knows we're all in the same leaky boat. But as long as the burden of parenthood falls 90% on the mother, 10% on the father (regardless of how often he co-parents) and 0% on the government, we're going to have to keep whispering our failures to each other while pasting on the "we're all fine here!" smiles.

Douglas writes:

We mothers have no paid maternity leave, no universal healthcare so that all our kids are covered, no comprehensive after-school programs, no genuine, truly revolutionary new support of our public schools that would revive them (No Child Left Behind already has become a massive joke). Too many workplaces have no onsite or nearby daycare, no flexible time, no job sharing. The right to control our own reproductive lives is under total siege.

Mothers feel they have been sold a bill of goods: We're supposed to be eternally nurturing, supportive and ecstatic about child rearing 24/7. We are never supposed to get angry, because the words "mom" and "angry" aren't supposed to go together. But if mothers in this country never got angry about how they and the nation's children were being treated, we'd still have child labor and laws discriminating against married women in the labor force. Mothers' voices have not been heard, especially during this presidential campaign season. It's about time they were. Check out two Web sites, and And remember: Motherhood remains the unfinished business of the women's movement.

I know some of that isn't true for some women; sure, many do have paid maternity leave, comprehensive after-school programs. Some even have on-site daycare at work. That's great, but these women are the exceptions, and as long as that's the case, I consider it a problem.


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Great Post

My mother is also a breast cancer survivor, so Mother's Day means a lot.

Momentum of a Mom

The other stuff in this post took me away from what I was initially attracted to about your Mom, so I didn't post earlier. You have to swallow a lot of what I think we called (in the 80s) "tough cookies" and you are lucky to be with a survivor. :)

- Michelle

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