Every year, right around the second Sunday in May, American culture’s “near-religious devotion to the idea of parenthood,” particularly motherhood, reaches a fever pitch, argues Lindsay King-Miller, and we start talking about mothers “like they’re a cross between neurosurgeons and Mother Teresa.”
“The only thing America loves more than imaginary, flawless mothers is tearing down real mothers for every perceived failing. We criticize women for working, for staying home, for breastfeeding, for formula feeding, for being ‘helicopter parents’ or spending too much time on their phones. Meanwhile, fathers are praised to the skies if they can manage to spend an hour alone with their children and not set the house on fire,” says King-Miller.
But all colorful bouquets and brunchy Mimosas aside, none of that maternal worship ever seems to “translate into actual, real-world support for mothers,” notes King-Miller. For example, mothers are typically penalized for having children while men’s salaries improve, and accessible, affordable childcare is still unattainable. Meanwhile, paid maternity leave is still considered a privilege usually dolled out by tech companies, not a right.
“Oh, and the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act would allow states to opt out of providing coverage for maternity care, because nothing says ‘reverence for motherhood’ like putting women into thousands of dollars of medical debt just for routine care during pregnancy.”
Whether we like it or not, pregnancy, parenting, education are political battlefields, King-Miller insists, and America’s children and families are on the front lines.