Mother’s Day is coming up, which means it’s time to start thinking about all of the wonderful ways that dear old Mom has sacrificed, struggled, and otherwise dedicated her life to making sure that our lives are awesome. Of course, not every mother is a good mother, but even if yours stinks she at least had the decency to give birth to you, so you have your existence. You can at least be thankful for that. And we need to be thankful on this one day, because we don’t really care on the rest of the days.
You know that old saying about actions and words? You need to think about it, because we can be very tricky with our words. Words cover up a lot of terrible actions. We can say things like “we care deeply about women and children,” but then our actions can go out to the rooftops and loudly shout that we do not. In fact, as a society, if there is one thing we do NOT care about, it is women and children.
FACT: Single mothers are by far the most likely to fall into poverty, at least according to the census and the National Poverty Center. And this is not because, well, obviously duh. This is because we, as a society, have set up a system where thriving requires a man around. Men? They make more money, generally have more freedom, and rarely end up with the children if things don’t work out with the mother. Kids? They can work at poverty level wages, because they’re not real people. They’re just working for fun money, or to supplement those college scholarships. And women? Well, women need men, not for actual natural reasons, but for artificial societal ones. We need women to need men. Otherwise, where would men’s worth lie? In obscure sports trivia and jar-opening?
See, men know that they are in charge. Look at Father’s Day. Who cares about Father’s Day? I mean, we care. Dad gets a tie. Maybe he gets to play golf. But he is nowhere near as canonized as Mom is on her day. And he doesn’t need to be. He gets to be in first place all year, so his day isn’t so different from all the other days. Thanks for showing up, Dad. Now go do something for yourself. You know, like you did last weekend.
FACT: The programs most often on the chopping block when we have decided that we cannot afford everything are (can you guess?) education, and assistance for people in poverty, who, as you have just read, are very likely to be single mothers. We do care deeply about women and children, it’s just that we care about everything else slightly more deeply. They are last on the list, and the first to be cut. We want to help them with our words, but our actions proclaim the depths of our solipsistic greed.
Don’t we, on some level, really want to help women and children? Or is that only specific women, that we hope will later sleep with us? Or specific children that are cute and adorable? Why don’t we care about all of them? It’s like we are tossing them into the lifeboats, not because we want to protect them, but to get them out of the way so that the menfolk can fix the ship. Women and children are seen as things we can do something with, and not as human beings in need of care and respect. We’re happy to give opinions on a fetus, but not so willing to show support for babies and toddlers and children and the women who raise them.
Do you remember being a kid, and having that frustrating experience of not being listened to or taken seriously? It sucked! But you knew you would grow out of it eventually and become an adult, with a full seat at the table. At least if you were a boy you knew that. Apparently the poor girls have become women now and are still waiting. I’m not entirely sure what the problem is, because from my seat at the table, there seems to be plenty of room.
These problems are not the fault of any one individual, and it may be that you yourself are working hard and doing a great job of fighting for women and children on a real and meaningful level. But the fact is, as a whole, our society puts very little value on them. They are taken care of from our excess, and not from our need. We do not sacrifice for them. They sacrifice for us. And that’s not okay. So this Mother’s Day, as you think about all of the things that your mother (or your wife) has given up for you along the way, instead of just saying thanks with a card or some flowers, maybe think about some of the things you have given up for her. And if you can’t think of many, now would be a great time to start.