The mom blogosphere will be all a twitter. The twit-osphere will... explode? with poignant remembrances of our own mothers, tales of our children finding touchingly unique ways to express their love, and funny accounts of how well meaning husbands clumsily failed at giving us a break.
So, I won't do any of that. You've probably had your fill.
But I want to use this celebration of mothers to say something close to my heart.
Just two months ago I became a mother to my second son. He's, objectively speaking, the sweetest baby currently alive on the planet.
A few weeks after his birth a friend's sister died due to complications from childbirth, orphaning her children and devastating her family. It hit me hard, and I think about it often. The unfairness of it all. The fact that the wealthy world is insulated from such preventable tragedies that are a fact of life for so many.
And living in Kenya these inequities are hard to avoid.
This is an important issue to me, so I was heartenend when a friend shared this video by the Every Mother Counts campaign about maternal mortality.
Did you watch it? Did something strike you?
OK. The statistics are undeniably devastating, and it seems clear that these women believe in the cause. But what's the ask? Here it is: The Every Mother Counts campaign wants us all to be SILENT on mother's day (don't answer the phone, update your status or accept gifts), with the goal of... (wait for it....) spreading the word. Staring a conversation. It makes no ever-loving sense!
If someone doesn't answer their phone on Mother's Day, I'll assume she went to brunch.
But I'm a good mark for this campaign. I care about the issue and am ready to do something. So, I think their strategy is a bit ... let's just be nice and say "perplexing," but maybe there's somewhere I can donate. I go to their facebook page, which has an option "share" the video or "donate."
Great. I'm ready to donate, to help at-risk mothers, to help prevent needless deaths. But that link takes me to a page where I can donate to the "advocacy and mobilization campaign." The very campaign which has just proved its ineptitude.
Is this an activism fail?
It might even be a slacktivism fail.
At best. At worst it's a wasted opportunity.
And I don't think all "awareness raising" is bogus. This is a very neglected issue in the international policy space and could use some sunlight, some pressure on the world stage.
But here's the thing: The root causes of maternal mortality, of a woman dying every 90 seconds from complications (90% of which are preventable) or suffering lifelong disabilities from childbirth, are poverty, sexism and culture.
It's from young girls forced into early marriages whose pelvises strain to carry and deliver a baby; women too poor or isolated to get pre-natal care or be attended at birth by a trained professional; women who are cut off from the decisions about how to spend their family's meager income and not valued enough that it be spent on their care; from countries too poor to provide health care.
So, who are we putting pressure on to change these things? If this is a symptom of poverty, we need services. Money. Advocacy sure, but money.
To be fair to Christy Turlington's Every Mother Counts campaign, they do support NGOs which are providing tangible services to areas in need. If you dig a little further on their Website you can find places which are presumably doing good work on the ground. In fact, one of the few that they support is directly in my neighborhood of Western Kenya, providing motorbikes to community health workers to increase access to maternal health care.
So here's my Mother's Day gift to you: If you are moved by this cause, and I assuming every mother who has had the luxury of access to quality health care, even if they chose a home birth, -- I'm looking at you mom bloggers -- is moved, here is a link to the page featuring some organizations doing work to prevent maternal morbidity and mortality.
And a few more places, becase it's good to have options:
Maybe it's tacky to ask something of mothers on the very day they are to be pampered. But if it's a day we are to celebrate mothers, I want to celebrate by being thankful that I was given the gift of becoming a mother -- that it was my choice, that I survived the birth, that my chilren are thriving. It's not a given. And what better way to do so than to help make sure this is a reality shared by as many women as possible.
Thanks for reading and Happy Mother Day!
Even though it is no longer Mother's Day, I'm linking this up with Yeah Write. I thought about not doing it, but then I figured if I believe in this cause the more people who read about it the better. Just consider it the Mo' Mothers