Mother's Day is a beautiful holiday that should absolutely be celebrated. In fact, I believe we should value and praise mothers every day, not just on one day each year.
My own mother passed away when I was 9 years old, but I have a fantastic relationship with my stepmom. I've even come to consider her my "second mom." But every year on Mother's Day, I get a little bit sad about the way our society views mothers. To me, the holiday has come to symbolize the fact that we don't practice what we preach when it comes to valuing women — and more specifically, moms.
Today, the United States is STILL one of the few countries in the world where paid maternity leave is not mandated. This is a major sticking point for me, but it's just the most obvious symbol of what is actually a very insidious attitude toward child-rearing and motherhood in general.
If we valued mothers as highly as we value CEOs, musicians, scientists, and artists, women would cease to be defined as stay-at-home moms or businesswomen.
Our lack of caring about maternity leave is representative of a bigger problem: we no longer value mothering or parenthood in general. If parenthood were valued the way it should be — as one of the highest and most important callings on the planet — we wouldn't have a society in which traditional business-focused careers are valued over motherhood, and where women are unable to balance a rewarding professional life with their roles as mothers. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that women shouldn't work or that professional and creative endeavors shouldn't be valued. I'm suggesting that raising the next generation of people is equally valuable, and mothers should be much more supported in whatever they choose to do.
More than ever, culture wars are at play, which seem to pit mothers against each other. There are moms who believe in free-range parenting and moms who are accused of being "helicopter parents." There are moms who believe in attachment parenting and moms who believe it's important to set an example for one's children by maintaining a strong sense of independence.
The thing is, in a perfect world, none of these opinions would be in conflict. If we valued mothers as highly as we value CEOs, musicians, scientists, and artists, women would cease to be defined as stay-at-home moms or businesswomen — there would be no need distance ones' self from motherhood in order to maintain an identity apart from it.
By the time I become a mom, I hope that I'll have made peace with what I can't control. Given that the culture wars (a subset of which are the "mommy wars") are more pronounced than ever, I doubt we're going to reach a turning point anytime soon. But my hope for the future is that we can somehow create a narrative in which families are more supported. Children deserve it, mothers deserve it, and fathers deserve it. Only when we can create a culture in which family life isn't looked down upon or devalued can we hope to unlock the full creative and professional potential of mothers everywhere.
So, yes, this Mother's Day my heart will get a little heavy. I hurt for my stepmom and for all mothers all over this country. I hurt for the moms who feel like they can only take two weeks of maternity leave because they're afraid their boss will forget about them. I hurt for the moms who want to stay at home with their kids but need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. I hurt for the moms who do stay at home and struggle to keep their heads above water. And I hurt for myself, because as much as I look forward to becoming a mother one day, it always makes me sad that the support all mothers need still has such a long way to go.