Monday, May 14, 2012

Saving Lives for Mother's Day and Every Day

Sure, Mother's Day is nice.... but it seems that each year brings more hype, expectation, and commercialization of what I've learned began with far different intentions. The founder of Mother's Day,  Anna Jarvis  wanted to honor her Mother, a woman who organized an association of women on opposing sides of the Civil War with disarmament and peace being the central goals. In 1914, after Jarvis's petitioning, President Woodrow Wilson officially declared the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. The focus shifted to a public declaration of honor and thanks to mothers in general. To Jarvis's dismay, within a decade of the official declaration of Mother's Day, rampant consumerism incited her to criticize a confectioner's convention in 1923 by stating, "You are using a beautiful idea as a means of profiteering and as the founder of Mother's Day, I demand that it cease."  She didn't have much sway with the momentum inherent in making a buck.

When my two kids were young, Mother's Day was an excuse to be pampered  and to expect some better behavior out of  them. Now as  an empty-nester, mother to twenty-somethings, a phone call from them wishing me a nice day sits well. Cards and gifts aren't necessary. It feels weird to have my own Mom gone these last two years; the ritual pull of  selecting a card and stopping by or calling is forever a memory.  Recently MM and I  sorted through hundreds of greeting cards Mom had saved through the years. Many were Mother's Day cards from the two of us. We threw them out after looking at each one for a last time.

When I read this powerful Op-Ed piece published in the Sunday NY Times entitled Saving the Lives of Moms, it hit me: this is what we should be thinking about on Mother's Day. Instead of spending money on flowers, candy, and cards we should be thinking about how to change the lives of girls forced into motherhood at  young, grossly inappropriate ages and whose lives are made a living hell by obstetric fistulae. The article commends the dedicated work of Dr. Arrowsmith, a urologist who has devoted his professional life to repairing fistulas at the Addis Abba Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. The hospital was founded by Drs.Reginald and Catherine Hamlin years ago. Dr. Hamlin says;

"These women are the poorest of the poor. They're alone in the world without hope, without friends. They bear their sorrows in silent shame. Their miseries, untreated are utterly lonely and lifelong."

I'm going to honor my Mother by sending a donation to the cause. I'm confident she'd be pleased.

Let's think about how we celebrate. 18 billion dollars was spent to honor our mothers yesterday. Think how even a fraction of that amount might change the lives of less fortunate women who live a hellish nightmare as a result of becoming mothers.

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