Another Mother's Day


With all eyes on the high drama of the Democratic primary race, Mother's Day has taken a back seat in the news cycle this spring. And that's just fine with me, since I've truly come to dread the mainstream media's perverse fascination with reviving the mommy wars every year. In any case, I'm here to liberate motherhood, not to celebrate it -- and while touching human interest stories about mothers heroically overcoming overwhelming setbacks are, well, incredibly touching, the profiles in maternal courage that predictably surface in the month of May do more to idealize the magical power of maternal stamina than to highlight the reality that every mother in the United States needs and deserves more support from our society than she's getting -- and far too many of us are falling through the cracks.

Mother's Day 2008 may be remembered as the first year out of many in which no big fat controversial motherhood books were published. The book drawing the most attention and criticism, Meg Wolitzer's novel, The Ten-Year Nap, seems fairly benign compared to recent non-fiction treatments of high-achieving-career-women-turned-stay-at-home-moms (see: Leslie Bennetts and Linda Hirshman). Amy Richards' new book, Opting In, looks interesting (cool cover art!) and is likely to appeal to MMO fans -- I'm looking forward to reading it when time allows. There are a number of well-intentioned books written by and for moms about how to reconcile work and family (yes! It can be done!) hitting the shelves, plus a few well-crafted motherhood memoirs, if that's your cup of tea.

The next full edition of the Mothers Movement Online -- which covers the progress of the mothers' movement in the United States -- will go live sometime next week. Meanwhile, here are a few timely links to new resources on mothering and Mother's Day.

The Save the Children Foundation released its annual report on the State of the World's Mothers. The 2008 study focuses on children's access to basic health care services and reducing mortality rates of children under 5. Among developing countries -- which account for 83 percent of child deaths -- more than 30 percent of children do not get basic health care when they need it, resulting in high death rates from treatable illnesses, particularly diarrhea and pneumonia. The report includes a must-read section on inequalities in infant survival in the industrialized world, including disproportionate rates of infant and maternal mortality among African American, America-Indian and Alaska-Native populations in the United States (don't miss the shocking graph illustrating the survival gap between African American and white infants in most of the 50 states). As in past years, the U.S. failed to place in the top-ten of the best countries for mothers and babies (the United States ranked 27th, well below Australia, New Zealand, and most EU countries). The complete report is available in .pdf; a multi-media presentation of highlights from the study is also available on the Save the Children web site.

No newsflash here for regular MMO readers: the Economic Policy Institute posted a an online fact sheet comparing paid and unpaid maternity leave benefits in wealthy countries -- and guess who comes up short? (Paid maternity leave still on the wishlist for many U.S. mothers, 7 May 08) "The United States falls two weeks short of the International Labor Organization's basic minimum standard of at least 14 weeks general leave," the authors note. The U.S. is also the only country that does not guarantee some duration of job-protected leave with income.

From the your-tax-dollars-at-work department, the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 "Facts for Features" series offers bullet points on selected trends related to motherhood and Mother's Day in America. Mostly for entertainment value -- such as the factoid that 12,473 Americans are employed in the greeting card industry.

The Council on Contemporary Families has a new Mother's Day Fact Sheet on Day Care -- but if you've seen recent MMO summaries of the Census Bureau analysis of employment patterns of first-time mothers and the rising cost of child care, there are no big surprises here, either.

The crew over at MomsRising is recycling last year's Mother's Day eCard with the trademark Infant Aerial Stunt Team animation. It's cute and funny (if you're into cute-and-funny stuff). But given the prevalence of mother-unfriendly policies and employer practices in the United States, a condolence card might be more appropriate.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by jstadtman published on May 11, 2008 12:28 PM.

Working While Mother: Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center’s Mother’s Day event to focus on discrimination in the workplace was the previous entry in this blog.

Now in MMO: The Mothers' Movement in the United States is the next entry in this blog.

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