Happy (?) Holidays

Apr 22 / Chris Wagner, M.S.

I know what you’re thinking – April is a bit early (or late, as is usually the case with me) to be talking about the holiday season, right? For the usual slate of winter season religious days, you’d be right, but today we’re going to talk about the rest of the holidays spread throughout the year. Specifically, we’re gearing up for the observation of Mother’s Day in the US in a few short weeks.  

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Looking forward to this holiday?

I’ve worked in several offices and restaurants where people bring in pink carnations and hand them out to mothers in the workplace. It’s lead to more than one awkward encounter when somebody is presented with one, and they embarrassingly reply, “No, actually…” This has traditionally been a day to honor current and soon-to-be mothers, and while we are certainly not advocating for the abolishment of this holiday, it’s always a good time to practice empathy and thoughtfulness with those in our lives who might not view this as a day filled with joy and happiness. In this Huffpost piece Lauren Casper lists a few reasons why somebody may not be looking forward to this holiday: 
  • If somebody is single, but wants to build a family 
  • If a couple have been trying unsuccessfully to begin a family 
  • If a person is in the process of adopting, but isn’t recognized as “expectant” 
  • A parent of adoptive children who worry about their child’s feelings about their biological parents 
  • People who are grieving the loss of a child
  • Those who have a strained relationship with their own mother 
  • Those whose mother has passed away 

Everyone is valued

I’m not saying that motherhood isn’t something to be recognized and celebrated – it certainly is! My point is simply that the human experience is messy, and complicated, and that part of striving for an inclusive community is to make sure that everyone is valued and seen. 
Instead of handing our pink carnations or chocolate to mothers this year, why don’t we take some concrete steps towards improving living conditions for all women? The gender pay gap is an issue affecting all women, and especially women of color. When the pandemic hit, women in the workforce were impacted more than men, and were often expected to quit their jobs to facilitate remote learning of their children. While paid family leave is gaining political momentum in the United States, we’re still one of the only countries that doesn’t mandate paid leave for new parents.

Is the point of Mother's Day simply to recognize women who have children, or do we want it to have a deeper meaning than that? We can, and should, take this time to put a little work into materially making people’s lives better. 

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