Ah, Mother’s Day. Another holiday of banal Hallmark cards, rushing to send flowers and gifts, of handing out red and white carnations (red if your mother is alive, white if she’s dead, or is it the other way around?), of asking our mothers in the congregation to stand.
In this more-than-one-year pandemic, motherhood is more political than ever. With millions of mothers leaving jobs because their children are home from school; moms facing issues with learning disabilities, home schooling, with our children facing ever increasing depression and anxiety; with Black and brown mothers having “the talk” with their children; with mamas burying their Black children killed by police, dying by depression and anxiety; and moms having to let go of the dreams for their children, dreams of graduations, of first years of college, of big, fancy weddings.
The NYT said on March 8, 2021 “according to the Census Bureau, a third of the working women 25 to 44 years old who are unemployed said the reason was child care demands. Only 12 percent of unemployed men cited those demands.” And in an article about the pandemic’s uneven costs, the NYT noted that “36 percent of Black mothers, and 30 percent of Hispanic mothers, were not working or were working less.”
Motherhood is political.
And I get the conundrum: if you ignore Mother’s Day altogether, someone will complain, whether it’s a congregant whose child was visiting, or an older member who wanted his wife to be celebrated.
But you’ll hardly ever hear from the ones who are hurt. The childless, the motherless, the over-mothered, the under-mothered, and the ones whose mothers hurt them.
If you must say something to about mothers this Sunday, please don’t forget the other-mothers (those who mothered us well but were not biologically related), the childless who still mother others, and, of course, the wanna-be-mothers who so desperately want children.
And most of all, let’s help our congregations know that our mothers are suffering… with little childcare, job losses, and financial issues. So rather than flowers or cards, perhaps we can advocate for our moms, for extra financial help through this pandemic, for an end to police brutality, for a just world in which to raise their children, for an end to gun violence.
Because motherhood is political.
Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).
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