Today is Mother’s Day – a day where we commemorate all that our mothers have done for us, right from giving birth to us to changing our diapers and even nurturing us through the thick and thin. They have had our backs no matter what and even handled us during those troubled, grueling, and agonizing teenage years. We never would have accomplished anything without them, and we would certainly not be here without them.
Seeing all that they have done for us, the question begs to be asked – is it fair to celebrate them only for a day? No, certainly not. But, this special day serves as a reminder to all those ungrateful children. With Mother’s day around the corner, children scamper through the houses, creating heartfelt cards, serving breakfast-in-bed, and devoting a whole day to pampering their mommies. This day encourages or rather provokes children to appreciate their mothers (an unwonted emotion for teenagers).
But, I’m going to play the devil’s advocate and say what if Mother’s Day is just a capitalist holiday? A commercial construct, if you will? A billion-dollar industry minting money through cheap Hallmark Happy-Mother’s-Day gift cards, chocolates, and Mother’s-Day-Specials brunches? (This went real bad, real quick!) Going by this theory, Mother’s Day could be discarded off as patronizing twaddle invented solely to placate women and pretend that people actually value the work they do. It’s patriarchal-capitalist appeasement with very little intrinsic value.
Twisted into a commercialized, ridiculous celebration, Mother’s Day is overwrought with expectations. The intentions were genuine when Anna Jarvis spearheaded the first Mother’s Day event in 1908 to honor her own mother, a Sunday School teacher and caregiver for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. She campaigned zealously for the holiday to become official. Her wishes come true when in 1914, Congress legislated a Mother’s Day, a day to honor those that had given birth to you. Soon enough, businesses found an opportunity to exploit and ravage the holiday of its true glory, and quickly, the floral and greeting-card industries took advantage of it. By 1920, disgusted by the onslaught of remunerative avenues, Jarvis began urging people to stop buying flowers and cards for their mothers. In a press release, she even berated florists and greeting card manufacturers by calling them “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers, and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.” Within her own lifetime, the proponent of Mother’s Day had turned on the holiday that she had fought so passionately and boldly for. Not only that, she went door-to-door collecting petitions in an effort to rescind the holiday.
Now, many writers have taken to various platforms and expelled their hatred and animosity towards this holiday. In an article It’s the Official Patronising of Women Day: The Capitalist-Patriarchal Conspiracy of Mother’s Day,
I don’t want some flowers that will die in a week or chocolate that I have to share with everyone else lest I be mistaken for being selfish. I dislike being patronised and fobbed-off with cheap tat. I want motherhood (in all its forms) recognised and protected.
I want maternal healthcare to be considered a major public health issue. I want women with PND to be able to access support. I want real legislation protecting maternity leave. I want universal and free at the point of access childcare. I want schools to be funded properly so I don’t need to waste my weekends fundraising to buy pencils. I want universal access to birth control and abortion. I want infertility and miscarriages to be treated with respect. I want women who choose not to or who can’t have children be respected for being women. I want a real healthcare system that cares for elderly, disabled and vulnerable family members properly.
What is also interesting is that a mother’s work is seriously undervalued and appreciated. According to Salary.com, the average stay at home mom works 94 hours a week. If she could collect a salary—doing a range of 6.2 hours of laundry and 14 hours of cooking and the like—she would earn around $113,568 per year. This perfectly aligns with Marxist-feminists ideologies, who understand that household work is not considered ‘real work’ and goes unnoticed and unappreciated. So, is it really justified if you take someone for granted 365 days and then buy them overpriced chocolates to superficially make up for it?
In addition, this day exacerbates and alienates those children who don’t have a mother or are raised by someone they can’t fully accept as their own. It also renews grief for those who are not mothers or do not have the luxury of indulging in such trivialities. So, in the end, it is worth wondering who actually benefits from this holiday? And, are we honoring mothers or consumerism?
I think Mother’s Day is a relic of the past, and we should update our calendars so that it is ready for the future.