Mother’s Day is this Sunday. I look forward to this day every year. My children are well aware that I have certain expectations regarding their role in celebrating this institution, though this doesn’t eliminate their occasional lapses. Not surprisingly since all of my children are now adults with deep progressive values, they approach Mother’s Day with a certain sense of bemusement. Still, I am always moved, without a trace of irony, by their various forms of acknowledgement.
With rise of modern feminism in the late 60s, Mother’s Day came to be seen by progressives as celebrating a traditional kind of mother’s role in the nuclear family. The celebration itself has been tainted by the commercialism of the commemoration industry, which seeks to require special cards, candies and/or flowers to recognize mothers appropriately.
I’ve been having critical discussions around the second Sunday in May for many years, though not very often with my own mother. Over time, I have come to believe that progressive women have successfully established this day as an opening to trigger dialog and demonstrations and around the economic, political and cultural constraints that mothers, in particular, and women in general face in this country.
Activist women have long used their role as a Mother to establish special standing to advocate for deeply felt causes. In 1870, the Boston-based author and abolitionist, Julia Ward Howe, issued her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” to end war. In 1872, Boston celebrated the first Mother’s Peace Day on the second Sunday in June. Many Americans celebrated this day for the next 30 years.
For Mother’s Day 2019, I would like to acknowledge the work of two highly successful advocacy groups founded by mothers. I have joined both groups because they focus on issues that I have made important elements of my political agenda in Richmond over the past 10 years.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a grassroots organization that is fighting for common sense gun control and other public safety measures to reverse the steady increase in gun violence we face in the United States. Moms Demand Action focuses on middle ground, bipartisan measures “to increase school security, shore up and reform our mental healthcare system, close the gun show and online loopholes, ban military-style assault weapons and bump stocks, and require background checks on anyone seeking to purchase a gun.”
MomsRising is a strong voice speaking out for mothers and women in Virginia. The MomsRising website (www.momsrising.org) provides a comprehensive description of the ambitious policy objectives of the group, which was founded in 2006. The group describes itself as a multi-cultural on-the-ground and online grassroots organization. Their overarching goal is to achieve economic security for all moms, women, and families in the United States. Over the course of my 10 years in the House of Delegates, I have submitted and/or supported many of the items on their detailed agenda, including mandating paid family leave, earned sick days, affordable childcare, for an end to the wage and hiring discrimination, better childhood nutrition, health care for all, toxic-free environments and breastfeeding rights. I also share their overall concern that Federal, state and local budgets should better reflect the needs of women and moms.
To all my readers, whether mothers or not, I hope you will celebrate Mother’s Day in the way that works for you.
Both “Moms” groups are nonpartisan and do not endorse primary candidates, even though these crucial issues will be won or lost by the the June 11th primary results. I have been fighting my whole life to advance women’s rights — fighting to pass the ERA, fighting to stop our criminal justice system from punishing women simply for being women, fighting workplace discrimination, fighting for equal pay for equal work and for our vital right to make our own personal healthcare decisions. We all know that women have to fight twice as hard as men for the same rights.
June 11 is a very important day for Virginia. I ask for your consideration and participation. Vote on June 11!