This year for Mother’s Day you can keep your flowers, candy, and spa gift certificates. What I want is some change — some real progressive change for women and their families. That’s a gift that will keep on giving all year long and help a lot more people than just moms!
Here’s the Sin City Siren Mother’s Day wish list:
- Equal Pay for Equal Work: Women lose an average $11,000 a year because of the wage gap. And it costs women of color even more! You know what would help a lot of frazzled, over-worked, over-tired moms? More money in their pockets!
- Protection for Pregnant Workers: Losing your job because you’re pregnant is so 1955. Let’s work with the National Women’s Law Center to get the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed! Because you shouldn’t lose your job just because you had a baby.
- Paid Parental Leave: While we’re helping working parents keep their jobs, why not give them the bonus of paid parental leave when the baby comes? America lags behind much of the world in providing legally protected maternity leave. Liberia has better paid maternity leave laws than us! We can do better!
- Paid Sick Leave: Most of the time if a kid (or elderly parent) gets sick, a parent has to dip into her/his own paid time off to cope. This can mean that some parents work while they themselves are sick because all their days are gone. And worse, less vacation time is taken and higher burn-out rates. Don’t be fooled by the GOP’s so-called Working Families Flexibility Act, which uses the ruse of “comp time” and flexibility of hours to essentially strip workers of certain rights and hand them over to employers to erode already protected paid time off. However, there is a good bill, the Healthy Families Act, which seeks to allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. You can sign on to support it here.
- Better Child Care Standards and Subsidies: Child care can be the single biggest factor in a family’s economic decision-making. For some, the average annual tab of $15,000 for child care practically diminishes the help of second (or even third) incomes, forcing one parents (usually the mother) to stay at home. Staying at home is fine, if it is a true choice. Here are five disturbing facts about child care in the America. We can do better.
- Guns: Whether you are a happy gun-owner or an avowed gun-hater, the one thing I hope we can all agree on is that we need better gun safety when it comes to kids. There have already been almost a dozen firearm homicides this year involving children under the age of 10. In 2010, there were more than 15,000 injuries and deaths from firearms to people under age 18, or more than the number of soldiers injured in Afghanistan. Stop the rhetoric. It’s time for smart, sensible solutions. Period.
- Reproductive Health and Safety: Women deserve the ability to take care of their health and bodies and to have access to safe, affordable health care. Six in 10 women who have abortions are already mothers. Reproductive healthcare is vital for women and their families. Healthy moms are an important part of healthy families. But it goes beyond that. Women deserve to have access to all forms of health care — from invitro fertilization to abortion — without judgement or fear. We deserve to live our lives without shame. Whether we’re mothers or not.
Finally, I just want to say that Mother’s Day is a holiday that can be joyful for some and full of heartache for others. We need to be respectful of not only our own paths but the paths of others. For some, the day will mean missing mothers or mother-figures who have died. Some will mourn the babies that have died, or the miscarriages that mark their journey toward actualizing motherhood. (I would argue that women who have or are trying to conceive are, in a way, already mothers. They just haven’t met their babies, yet.) Some people may be conflicted to have anger or hurt toward mothers who, perhaps, are not the best mothers. And some folks may be feeling excluded because society defines a mother as being a woman. Does motherhood have a gender? Do the single fathers and gay fathers of the world not also “mother” their kids?
Of course, I hope that you all have a lovely day, celebrating or not celebrating whomever it is who mothers you. For me, I will be celebrating the fact that I love being a mom. I don’t have to be defined by my relationship with my own mother. I can walk out of that shadow and enjoy the act of mothering my kid, which is in its own way is a kind of act of mothering myself, too.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the people who mother us and to the all the people we mother back!