Happy Mother’s Day!
Happy Mother’s Day!
I really mean that. I like to think that I refrain from giving in to commercially based holidays but once they arrive I can’t help but get swept up in the mushy family love fest. There is so much to say about mothers that I’ve decided to make this week Mother’s Week on the blog. Over the next week I want to pay some true respect to mothers, grandmothers, and women in general. But while it might get pretty corny soon, allow for some of the skepticism included in today’s post.
My mom is pretty great, if I do say so myself. Her numerous professional, academic and personal achievements are certainly what I admire her for the most as a woman and a role model. But it might also be mentioned that she is a three-time cancer survivor. Today, much more than in years past, it struck me that Mother’s Day has become a vehicle for talking about breast cancer. Today, even the Yankees were batting with pink bats and wearing ribbons. Because it seemed so much more prevelant than ever before I began to wonder about what it means. Are we, as a culture, more comfortable talking about illness on a national level? I hate to be too cynical but I don’t think this is the case. Our “discussion” of breast cancer is still painted pink and made as feminine as possible. The talk about finding a cure is couched among words like faith, love and hope. These words are fine in their own right. Everyone can use faith, love and hope every day of their lives. But breast cancer is consistently linked with the domestic, not the scientific. (I will add that I’ve seen some sassy and creative breast cancer awareness slogans of late that I quite like.) Are cancer rates rising to such a degree that when anyone in the country thinks of mothers they also think about cancer? Or is this solely a product of excellent branding of the Susan G. Komen foundation? Whatever it is, breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in the deaths of American women (I won’t address the disparities in mortality rates based on economic class and race). For now, I’ll just say get mammograms and stay healthy, ladies.
Celebrating mothers can be traced back to the most ancient civilizations but – according to our reliable friends at Wikipedia – it was Anna Jarvis who is credited with “creating” the holiday to honor mothers in the United States. Woodrow Wilson made it an official holiday in 1914. Ms. Jarvis herself, however, soon came to deeply regret the commercialization of the holiday and vocally criticized the greeting card industry and the people who bought those greeting cards. This is what I find most interesting: Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year to dine out (National Restaurant Association). What does this say?
Moms still do most of the cooking. So when it is their day off, we all go out to eat.