Mother’s Day just might be the most well-earned holiday on our calendar.
That’s not just because of the honors due to all the mothers who selflessly put themselves in the integral, irreplaceable centers of functional family life. Those are the moms who build a society one hearth at a time, and if we have enough of them and we respect them enough to let them work their magic, then they’ll build us a society we can be proud of.
But present reality isn’t quite that rosy, is it? A Sunday in May notwithstanding, our track record of support for the supermoms–for all the moms, really–is dreadful and trending downward.
Conversely, it has to be admitted, the supermoms are in the minority. There are all kinds of mothers, and there is a universe of experiences in terms of how we were all raised up. The more complicated of a relationship a person has with their mother, or with the idea of motherhood, the less likely they are to agree that mothers are owed a uniquely capacious reservoir of esteem and deference.
One has to wonder, then, if the bad and the sad among those countless individual experiences are to blame for the ways in which modern America treats its women. Maybe respect and tolerance are nurtured-in traits, and the absence of proper nurturing nurtures instead hate and misogyny.
If so, I’d still call that just an excuse for inexcusable behavior.
Everyone drawing breath at this moment has one thing in common: a woman gave us life. And whether that woman went on to be a supermom, or something less, or absent entirely, becomes irrelevant in light of personal dignity and responsibility. You make the choices on how you’ll lead your life, and you get the credit or blame for how things turn out.
So to the men and boys who hate and fear women, who are more strident and vocal than ever before, I say this: Get over your mommy issues. Grow up. Have the courage to be a better person.
Girls and women are more than half our population. Some of them are or will one day be mothers—but not all of them. They fit into no single template, for they are and should be free to chart their own course. And they should be respected and supported as they do so.
It’s common to remind the misogynist that the woman he disparages could be his mother, sister, wife, or daughter. That may be true but it hasn’t seemed to move him. Maybe he can’t be moved.
But that doesn’t matter, and it’s beside the point. None of us should have to appeal for respect. That women are constantly forced to do so only goes to show the depth of the injustice.
So in the end it doesn’t matter if she’s your mother or your wife or your sister or daughter—she’s her own person, she’s a citizen, she’s a fellow inhabitant of our benighted and imperfect world. She has every right and invitation to live her life on her own terms. Get behind her or get out of her way.
To all the mothers, happy Mother’s Day and thank you for the gift of life. And to all the women: be strong, drive on, and never mind the troglodytes.