My Mother’s Day post will be brief (update: I lied.) This year, my thoughts keep coming back to the economy and how it has affected mothers throughout the years, at least in the U.S.
I feel like I was raised with a message from society that hard work was the key to getting ahead economically. And I have also heard a lot of platitudes about the value of mothers. But I have to say, if mothers were truly valued and hard work really was the key to financial success, my own mom would have been one of the richest people in the world. I don’t know anyone who worked harder. Yet the last few years of her life, she depended on her children and one of her brothers for support as we scrambled to make sure she had the care she needed in a for-profit system.
My mother first raised several younger siblings (literally, her mom and step-dad moved away looking for work and left her, at age 17, with the younger kids for several months until they could send for them.) Then she raised her own kids, while often helping out with her nieces and nephews. She was the primary care giver for my father for a while, even while battling her own health issues. A lifetime of care for others with no monetary compensation or safety net to speak of. Yet when she needed care, there at the end, you bet it was expected to be paid for. All of that social praise of mothers was just people moving the air with their vocal cords.
Women are much more likely to experience poverty post-retirement than men are. If you don’t want to take my word for that, here’s an article from Financial Advisor. There’s plenty of documentation of this in plenty of places.
I often wonder what life would be like in this country if women had been equally represented in government from the beginning. I’m pretty sure if half our representatives had been women all along, child care would be widely available and affordable. It would have been considered a priority, recognized by those in power as a foundational need of life. There would be an adequate retirement plan in place for those who keep the country going with their unpaid labor.
Breakfast in bed is nice. Flowers are beautiful. But let’s not stop there. This year for Mother’s Day, lets work to give Mom what she really needs – quality, affordable child care, a social safety net, equal representation in government.