Is Mother’s Day Feminist?

May 11, 2009

Call me a crank, but I hate Mother’s Day.  To be fair, I grew up in a household where Mother’s and Father’s Day (along with Valentine’s Day) were scoffed at.  My parents always argued that you should always recognize the people who are important and that you don’t need a special day.  So it was never a part of my life until M was born.  But I have now gone through two of them and I can say with utter honesty, the day drives me nuts.

I could live with the cheesy cards, with the potential for tacky gifts, with the lukewarm breakfast in bed, with the strangers suddenly becoming friendly in order to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, all of that.  But what really irks me is that I feel like it is a lame excuse to not actually deal with the fact that our society overburdens mothers (and fathers, when it comes to Father’s Day).  Not to sound cold and heartless, but is a cheesy framed picture of your kids that sits on your desk at work supposed to make you feel better in September when you are pulling that 12-hour day and missing the soccer game that you cut all the orange wedges for at 11 o’clock at night? 

And then there are the revolting articles (like this and this) that always come out on Mother’s Day about how much a mother would earn for her work as a mother, if she was paid.  Call me cynical, but an article like that dropping on a Sunday, when no one is going to take it seriously, does nothing but condescend to mothers for all that they do.  Why not use the energy spent buying gifts and organizing brunch on starting a serious debate about government subsidies for stay-at-home mothers or how to make quality day care and after-school care affordable or how we can create realistic job-sharing programs?

I say next year there should be a March on Washington that demands change on some of these truly feminist issues and, if you want to, you can even where you “#1 Mom” sweatshirt.


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