Mother’s Day is a time when most moms want a break, that one day off where they don’t have to pack a lunch or do dishes, where they don’t have to plan grocery lists and schedule ballet lessons, and they can use the bathroom in peace, a day where they can just be.
It’s also valuable to recognize that Mother’s Day can be a complex time for families. There are single moms who have no partner to help their kids make them breakfast in bed, there are children who have lost their mothers or don’t have a close relationship with their moms.
One mom declared her true feelings about Mother’s Day, and she’s being commended for them.
Virginia Sole-Smith is a parent and the author of the book “Fat: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture,” which is a New York Times Bestseller that explores undoing anti-fat bias within families and society. She posted on TikTok, showing off her OOTD and sending a message to parents everywhere.
Sole-Smith shared her “cute spring outfit and [a] quick reminder that Mother’s Day is an emotionally complicated, patriarchal scam and we need systemic change to support all parents,” complete with fire emoji.
In her caption, she wrote, “As usual, would happily trade brunch for paid family leave, reproductive rights and oh yeah, some mother f—g gun control laws.”
It’s no secret or surprise that moms are tired, burnt out, and ready for a major change. Too many moms shoulder the weight of emotional labor while completing the never-ending labor involved in working, caregiving, and maintaining a household, without equitable support from society or their partners if they’re parenting with someone else.
While Mother’s Day currently presents as a commercialized holiday, one where you take your mom to brunch, buy her flowers, or even a massage, to ease the tension she carries from being the default parent, its origins go deeper than that.
The roots of Mother’s Day go all the way back to 1858, when a mom named Anna Jarvis organized Mother’s Work Day, a day in which Jarvis and other mothers educated families about health, cleanliness, and how to prevent disease, improving the lives of families, who often lost children to illness or infection.
Jarvis inspired another mother named Julia Ward Howe to organize The Mother’s Day of Peace. Howe called for mothers across the country to leave their homes for a day to come together and work towards peace in their communities in the aftermath of the Civil War.
As Gloria Steinem explained, “Mother’s Day really was, in its origin, an anti-war day, an anti-war statement… [it was] a call for women all over the world to come together and create ways of protesting war, of making a kind of alternate government that could finally do away with war as an acceptable way of solving conflict.”
All parents need support, and moms deserve so much more than people calling them superheroes for meeting their family’s needs, or dads who hand them crying babies when they’re just trying to shower.
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Moms want and need an equitable division of labor. In a partnered relationship, that might look like the non-default parent taking responsibility for different household tasks, without the mom having to plan for them. Another way to achieve equity for parents, as Sole-Smith acknowledges, is for society to offer more built-in infrastructure for families, like universal daycare and paid family leave.
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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango’s news and entertainment team. As a former postpartum doula, she covers parenting issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.