Mother’s Day Should Be About Community Organization

It feels very odd to be thinking about Mother’s Day in terms of myself, and not just about my mother and grandmothers. I’m currently (almost) 22 weeks pregnant and Bean is constantly making me more aware that he exists. Just in the past few days I’ve noticed the strength of his movement increase and become more regular. So it feels like fantastic timing that in the past few weeks, not one but two feminist books on motherhood have come into my life. Jumping into motherhood feels like throwing myself headlong into the dark, and just as I did that I found some helpful guides in these books. If you want to look them up for yourselves, and I highly recommend them, they are:

It was in Forget Having It All that I learned about the origins of Mother’s Day. Created by Anna Jarvis, who wished to honor the work of her mother Ann Reese Jarvis. Ann Jarvis was a peace activist and suffragette who organized Mother’s day work clubs to talk about health issues and wanted a Mother’s day for peace. The origins of Mother’s day are about as far from the commercialized bullshit we see today as one can get. Ann Jarvis was a community organizer and health advocate, she helped organize mothers to help other mothers who suffered from tuberculosis and help to develop programs that to inspect milk. I highly recommend reading the Wikipedia page on her! When looking at all that she strove to do it’s no wonder her daughter wanted a holiday to celebrate her and other mothers like her.

But it seems to me that we have the holiday all wrong now. While I definitely believe you should go out of your way to give the mothers in your life gifts and give them the day off, I believe both Ann and Anna Jarvis are rolling in their graves to see the bastardization of their holiday. Anna, was known to protest at Hallmark and flower shops, furious that they were taking the holiday to make a profit. Just giving your mother a premade card and a few flowers was not what she wanted. And I think her mother would agree.

Mother’s Day should be about community organization and support. Yes, it should also be about celebrating mothers and giving them nice things, and letting them sit down for a day with their feet up. But celebration for one day is hollow without actions to back it up. It’s on days like tomorrow that we should turn our attention to the fact that maternity leave in the United States is generally unpaid and for only a few weeks. We should look at the cost of childcare and question why we’re making it so hard for mothers to be mothers. But most importantly on Mother’s Day, we should look to our communities and see how we can extend support to all mothers.

Since reading these books I’ve been looking into mom’s groups near me and also reflecting more on the meaning of motherhood as it pertains to myself. As someone who is pretty much constantly confused about gender, how does motherhood affect me? I don’t have an answer yet. I want to continue to ask questions, continue to read books and talk to the other people also asking these questions.

Other ways we can extend community support is by actually supporting mothers in need. In Ireland an author is currently working to renovate an old knitting factory into a artist residency that is childcare inclusive, you can find the patreon here. You could also consider donating to mothers like this one, who is seeking housing after leaving an abusive situation.

And also if you enjoyed my post please consider checking out my other reviews of books and film as well as my cooking posts under the tag “weekend cooking”. I write about queerness, polyamory and my normal life as well. You could also consider tipping me through Ko-Fi, which is basically the same as buying me a coffee! I also have a patreon that I am slowly putting life back into. Thank you for reading.

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