mother’s day reconsidered.

May 9, 2019

I’ll take breakfast in bed with an extra-large helping of revolution, please.

In anticipation of Mother’s Day this weekend, here are a few things I’ve listened to, or read, or heard about lately that have inspired me to think of Mother’s Day in something of a different light.

Reclaim: The DoubleShift is a new reported podcast about working mothers, which is to say, all mothers. In their latest episode they implore all of us to reclaim Mother’s Day’s revolutionary roots by putting the focus back on labor.

Get paid: Speaking of labor, seventy-one percent of American mothers today work outside of the home, but outside work or not, mothers are still shouldering the lion’s share of childcare and household tasks, to say nothing of the invisible emotional labor that also gets punted their way. Put a dollar amount on the invisible labor of mothers. See also: Bill the Patriarchy.

Remember: “Every parent plays many different roles, and every child defines their parent in a different way.” I love the More Than Mom photo essay that Wear Your Voice published two years ago for Mother’s Day. It’s a celebration of families that takes into account single parents, gender non-conforming parents, LGBT parents, and non-biological parents and caregivers.

March: American women today are 50% more likely to die in the period surrounding childbirth than their own mothers were. This staggering statistic reflects the experiences of Black and Indigenous women, for whom maternal mortality is often three times higher than it is for white women, regardless of income or education. This Saturday, join March for Moms to help raise awareness about and discuss policy and practical solutions to address the crisis of maternal mortality in America today. See also: The MOMMIES Act.

Empathize: As access to women’s reproductive healthcare is increasingly under assault, conversations around abortion become heated and political and the women and mothers whose stories are at the heart of the matter get lost. Last week’s Longest Shortest Time episode is about one mother’s late-term abortion. It’s not easy to listen to, but it should be required listening for anyone engaging in the subject. The show notes also include a comprehensive list of resources for parents coping with Child Loss.

Listen in: Motherhood Sessions is a new podcast from reproductive psychiatrist Dr. Alexandra Sacks. Instead of tackling the struggles of motherhood related to sleepless nights or diaper changes, Dr. Sacks focuses on the “psychological big-bang” that is motherhood. In each episode, listeners hear Dr. Sacks and a patient work through a problem or question related to motherhood—”from career uncertainty to sex to ambivalence about even being a mother.”

Reframe: Words matter, and in the newly launched NYT Parenting website, which covers everything from “fertility and pregnancy to the basics of baby-and-kid care and developmental milestones,” the editors won’t be using the term natural birth.

PS. I’m wearing the trusty Storq carryall in the photos above. For any parents-to-be out there, Storq is offering Reading My Tea Leaves readers a chance to shop their Mother’s Day sale one day early. Use the code TEALEAVES20 to get 20% off. The sale runs through Sunday, May 12, 2019. This post isn’t sponsored, but this is an affiliate link which means if you make a purchase, Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission.

PPS. In case you missed it, a few ever-so-slightly revolutionary gift ideas for the mothers in your lives—whether yourself, your spouse, your sister, or anyone else at all who claims the title.

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  • Reply Lexie May 9, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    I love this! Thank you so much for helping shift the conversation to how to REALLY respect and honor mothers. I appreciate you: the work you are doing, the community you are building, and the children you are raising.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 9, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      thanks so much, lexie!

  • Reply Rebekah May 9, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Wow. Thanks for that calculator link. I should be making $57,000 for my labor as a work-from-home mother.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 9, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      incredible, isn’t it?

  • Reply Judith A Ross May 9, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    Thank you so much for all the thoughtful information and links. I sent the link for “Let’s Return Mother’s Day to its Revolutionary Roots with the Invisible Labor Calculator,” to both of my adult sons, one of whom will be a father in September. My Mother’s Day wish to them was that they reward me by being a “manager” rather than an “assistant manager” when it comes to running their respective homes. And for you, dear Erin, a link from this week’s New Yorker. I know it will make you sad, but it will also keep all of our maternal anger at the steady boil that is required during this horrific time.

    When my son and his partner shared their happy news with us, they also told us that the decision to have a child was the result of many long and thoughtful conversations. I am hoping that by the time Mother’s Day arrives again — when my granddaughter will be 8 months old, that such conversations will feel a little less urgent. We shall see.

    In the meantime, please know that all of your efforts and labor mean quite a lot.

  • Reply Abby May 9, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Just a quick note! This episode of After Effect addresses women of color and childbirth in terrific and sad detail:

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 9, 2019 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks, Abby!

  • Reply Jess May 9, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    LOVE all of this! Thanks for all these resources!

    The only thing I didn’t see included that I might have expected is to consider that some may not wish to celebrate the day — those who have lost their mom, have an estranged relationship, or those suffering from infertility who aren’t moms quite yet. It took me two years to get pregnant and each of those two mother’s days were saddest I’d ever been. (Happily, I now have an amazing nine-month-old and will celebrate my first mother’s day this weekend.)

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 9, 2019 at 5:43 pm

      I hear that. So many angles and considerations, do you have a good resource or story that was particularly comforting during that time?

  • Reply Sally May 9, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    What’s happening in Ohio and Georgia has me so enraged today so thank you for sharing these links/conversations…. Just wanted to jump in and also recommend the podcast Mom Rage as well, especially their episode (Season 2, episode 4) with a mother who chose to have an abortion after an accidental pregnancy. It was so, so good and thoughtful.

    Also the On Being episode with Frances Kissling, President of Catholics for Choice is a great listen in light of everything ( I can’t help but think of Kissling’s words over and over today: “When somebody gives a kidney, we applaud that person as the most altruistic of human beings. But women give their bodies every day to a fetus to bring it into the world. And every pregnancy carries with it the risk of death. _Pregnancy is normal. Having babies is normal. It’s natural. It’s no big deal that women do this._ [False.] It is a big deal that women give their bodies to bringing new life into the world.”

  • Reply Jessie Buckmaster May 9, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    All of these are fantastic. I also highly recommend National Bailout, I donated to help contribute bail toward getting black mothers out of pre-trial detention:

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 9, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      Yes!! They’re on my Mother’s Day Gift Guide this year (and every year!)!

  • Reply Bethany May 9, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Not a mother, but currently considering it as a 30-year-old woman contemplating her future. Thank you for covering these important topics. I wanted to thank you, yet again, for covering such a fascinating array of topics, including politics, racial and social justice, and environmental issues, on your blog. I love a good lifestyle blog to take my mind off things, but truly appreciate when my favorite woman-run blogs branch out to cover meatier issues. It makes me feel respected, and the opposite of infantilized — as our gender so often is.


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