...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, May 06, 2004
      ( 9:39 AM )
Mama's Day

Amidst all the horror stories around the world lately, you might have (just possibly, but not likely) forgotten that it's Mother's Day this coming Sunday. At least in the U.S. (other countries get Mother's Day in March). At any rate, I wanted to take some time to point you to my sidebar where I have an entire section of links devoted to Blogging Mamas. There are tons out there beyond my list, of course, but these are my favorites and ones that I'm pleased to have discovered. Please check them out.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'm reading The Mommy Myth, a book by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels. It's about how our society has mangled the meaning of motherhood so that women today are trapped in this cycle of having to live up to standards that are not only unrealistic but that are in fact unhealthy. This Mama's Day, I urge you to not only think about your own mom, but about how she as an individual woman had to juggle the roles that society laid on her shoulders - and the fact that despite the advances that feminism and the equal rights movement have brought, women still try to dodge or bear those same burdens.

It's not just the fake "wars" between "working" mothers and "stay at home" mothers that the media likes to foment. Or the "how does she do it?" articles about celebrity moms raising their kids AND getting daily workouts and facials - so why can't you? It's not just that women are expected to be as successful as men in the workplace, yet men still don't have the expectations of sharing an equal burden in the home arena to balance that out. The pressures that society and the media put on mamas are increased tenfold by a government that prefers to vilify and vicitmize women rather than empower them. The most evil scourge on society of course is the "welfare mom," the blame for the crimes of a kid are placed squarely on his mother's doorstep, and well-what kind of mother are you if you want to advance in your chosen career field at the expense of attending every one of your kid's soccer games? Or what kind of woman are you if you only want to have one kid? Or if you don't want to (GASP) have any kids at all?

The basic things that would not only help mothers, but indeed revive our entire society are ignored: health care, child care, fair pay, fair pay for overtime work, and the right to choose for yourself your own reproductive future.

As Susan Douglas puts it:

In addition to women in general, there is a huge constituency
out there, mothers and children, who have been taken for
granted, pandered to or ignored since Reagan. Caught
between speed-up at work and the decline of leisure time
on the one hand, and the myth of "the perfect mom" on
the other, mothers are urged to do more and more with
virtually no support from the government or workplace. It
is harder to be a mother in the United States than in any
other industrialized country.


If you talk and listen to mothers around the country,
guess what you find? An incipient, percolating rebellion.

Still, more than 30 years after the women's movement,
we do not have a national, federally funded, decent quality
daycare system in this country. We would have had one,
had Richard Nixon in 1971 not vetoed the most
comprehensive childcare bill ever enacted (with major
bipartisan support). But Nixon and his adviser Pat Buchanan
thought it was more important to bow to the right wing
of the party. Thus, daycare remains a patchwork, with
some of us having access to terrific centers while others,
especially those in large cities, small towns or rural areas,
having very few, if any, choices. In civilized countries,
preschool is not seen as some "special interest" for
working mothers; it's seen as a developmentally enriching
program for all kids.

If all the mothers of America were sent on a fact-finding
mission, here's what we would find. In Sweden, we would
see that the government requires companies to give a
new mother a year's leave at 90 percent pay. It also
provides nurseries for most children older than 18 months.
A quick stop in Denmark would reveal that nearly half
of the children under 3 are in publicly financed nurseries,
and nearly 95 percent of children 3 to 6 are. On to France,
where 95 percent of children aged 3 to 5 are in preschool.
OK, you say, that's Europe. Well, get this. In 1984, Brazil
gave workers 12 weeks of maternity leave with pay.
(That's right, with pay.) Kenya mandates eight weeks of
maternity leave with pay.

Oh, and in Canada? You are guaranteed six months of PAID maternity leave, both the mother AND the father - and a year in which your job will be held for you.

Read the whole article, it's worth it. Mothers and the rest of our society are being sold a bill of goods. Just universal health care and the chance for child care, education assistance, living wages and true freedom of choice would change the entire face of parenting, motherhood and the future for our children.

Why is it better to spend billions on invading countries and destroying civilizations than to spend less on actually building our own civilization?

This Mama's Day, do something real for the Mamas of this country. Write a letter to your representatives and express to them your opinion that if they don't make decisions and find laws to TRULY help our society, then their jobs are in trouble.

By the way - this year, look for the local chapter of Mothers Acting Up in your community and if there's a parade, join in!!

UPDATE: I debated about mentioning this, but I keep thinking about it, so I'm going to. This Mama's Day, please don't forget all the women who are mamas of angels. Having lost a baby before she was born (and her 3rd birthday would have been this week), I know that so many mamas are forgotten because people can't see their children. Also, lots of mamas are forgotten because though they don't have children of their own, they do participate in children's lives, and simply aren't recognized for the Mamahood that they give. And finally, for all those mamas who struggle just to get by and still make the most of it, whether your children are with you or not, I commend you for being the kind of woman who makes what being a bohemian mama what it's all about.

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