In partnership with The OpEd Project, The American Prospect presents this series, curated by Deborah Douglas, examining aspects of life unique to women, on one of greeting card industry's biggest days.
“What have you ever done right?” That was the question that dominated my mind one night two years ago as I lay in my bed, surrounded by fluffy pillows and a sleepy Yorkie at the foot.
This wasn’t one of those self-denigrating moments I engage in when I internally chastise myself for not writing enough that day or holding my temper tighter, or not giving one of my journalism students much-needed grace under the pressure they face to prepare for an industry that asks them to do everything at once masterfully. No, this was a true thought experiment to force myself to fully identify the things I’ve gotten right in my life as a way of charting a course to build on something righteous and real, instead of wallowing in the wreckage of failed relationships, bridges burnt, tasks incomplete, dreams left to slumber or doors of opportunity walked by, not through.
“You have never had children,” I answered myself.
Shelia Price, center, is comforted by a friend as group of mothers and others march against police brutality as mothers from across the country join the "Million Moms March" with the group Mothers For Justice United at the Department of Justice in Washington, on Saturday, May 9, 2015.
When Mother’s Day became a national holiday in 1914, it was designed to honor the sacrifices mothers made for their children. Though the commercialization of the holiday is undeniable decades later, it remains a day where many of us celebrate and thank the women that birthed and or nurtured and raised us.
But this Mother’s Day feels different. Ominous. Heavy with sorrow. It seems wrong to celebrate when so many mothers are in pain. For example, though 300 women and girls were recently rescued from Boko Haram, the mothers of the still missing Chibok girls remain in agony over a year later. How many of those girls remain alive? How many have now had motherhood violently thrust upon them?
Mothers in the United States are also suffering. Many have lost their daughters too, not to religious extremism directly but to state-sanctioned violence. Whether weeping over the unarmed and largely ignored corpses of their daughters slain by police or burning with rage at the duplicity of verdicts like the acquittal of Dante Servin, black mothers across the nation are in pain.
In this September 10, 2014, file photo, an unidentified immigrant from Guatemala who declined to give her name, is interviewed, while her son paints on a whiteboard at the Artesia Family Residential Center, a federal detention facility for undocumented immigrant mothers and children in Artesia, New Mexico.
NINA RABIN and SUZANNE DOVI
In last year’s Mother’s Day Proclamation, President Obama recommended we put our moms first “because they so often put everything above themselves.” He said we should “extend our gratitude for our mothers' unconditional love and support” because “when women succeed, America succeeds.”
Obama should have specified that his enthusiasm for moms is strictly limited to American moms.
Last summer, his administration systematically locked up over a thousand mothers and children, fleeing for their lives from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Purvi Patel is taken into custody after being sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide and neglect of a dependent on Monday, March 30, 2015, at the St. Joseph County Courthouse in South Bend, Indiana. Yet she may simply have had a miscarriage.
Infant mortality rates, defined as the number of deaths of children less than one year of age per 1,000 live births, are high in the U.S. A 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says despite the fact healthcare spending is significantly higher than any other country in the world, a baby born here is less likely to see its first birthday than one born in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Belarus. Infant mortality rates are an important indicator of a nation’s health because it is associated with maternal health, quality and access to medical care, and public health practices. Infant mortality rates are higher in Indiana than the national average, with far worse outcomes for black infants than others.