Mother’s Day 2012: All systems go

So. There’s a movement afoot to put the kaibosh on Mother’s Day.

I saw this crop up a few times, notably in my online mama groups, but I dismissed it as another “I’m wearing a PINK bra!” meme-in-the-ass.

Jaimie brought it to my attention again when she posted about it over at Bad Mommy, No Cookie, and asked if any of us were planning on uncelebrating Mother’s Day. Here’s what I said there:

We will be celebrating Mother’s Day. I understand the awareness-raising sentiment, but it rings hollow. My “disappearing” for one day will in no way lessen another grieving family’s sorrow and it frankly smacks of a profound egocentrism — on the part of the originators, not you, Jaimie — to suggest that one more Dooceless day will change the world. Yes, yes, I know it is meant to generate discussion. Kony 2012, anyone? Let us honour these lost mothers EVERY day and not feel guilty for eating pancakes in bed on Sunday.

But there’s more to it than that. On reflection, it’s not egocentrism, it’s opportunism. And I’m not just bitter about it because it’s attempting to rain on MY parade, but because it is profoundly disrespectful of the women it purports to honour. It’s taking a very serious and shockingly underreported issue — maternal health — and attaching it to a well-known celebration, because that will get their cause shitloads of media coverage. Believe me, I had that job, I know how it works.

I feel like I have to say it again: because that will get their cause shitloads of media coverage. That’s the motivation behind “No Mother’s Day.” If the intention was truly to raise awareness about the disturbing statistics (see below), there are ways to do it that don’t involve making mothers feel like they have to disappear. I can’t speak for any other family, but if I refuse to answer the phone on Mother’s Day, that’s not “an act of solidarity” or “an invitation to discussion,” that’s an act of rudeness and an invitation to have my own mother tell me I’m deluded.

How is disappearing for one day disrespectful? Because it imitates, it fakes, it plays at something that is a sad reality for too many families. (Many of) those lost mothers wanted to be mothers. They deserved to be mothers. They deserved to be celebrated by the familes that they created, who loved them then and love them still. And that’s why we will be celebrating Mother’s Day: in my name, and theirs.

Of course, if P asks, I will have to pretend that it all about me. But that’s nothing new.


Whether you are a mother or you just love one, you can educate people about this issue and help prevent it. Here are some important facts about maternal health around the world.
  1. Approximately 358,000 women die each year due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. That’s one woman every 90 seconds.
  2. For every woman who dies each year in childbirth, 20-30 more suffer from lifelong debilitating disabilities.
  3. Pregnancy is the number one cause of death in women, ages 15-19, in the developing world. Nearly 70,000 young women die every year because their bodies are not ready for parenthood.
  4. Over 200 million women who would like to choose when they get pregnant don’t have access to family planning.
  5. The United States ranks 50th globally in maternal mortality, even though it spends more on health care per capita than any other nation in the world. African American women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than Caucasian women.
Almost all of these deaths are preventable.

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