Doing Mothers Day Outside of the Box

single moms

Written by Liza Donnelly, Contributor-

Photo Credit: Josh Estey/Every Mother Counts

I’ve not a big fan of Mother’s Day.  It all started when my mother told me she didn’t like Mother’s Day. My mother is no longer alive, but I still feel solidarity with her, and perhaps have even passed this cranky dislike on to my daughters. There are many things our parents do when they raise us that we  instinctively do for, to or with our own children. Like when my daughters asked if they could pierce their ears, I remembered my mother’s rule: not before you are 18. I was about to reiterate the piercing rule to my daughters when I thought: why? I can change that “rule” if I want. And I did.

While I am not my mother, I believe having a healthy skepticism about Mother’s Day is a good thing. As I got older, I moved from blind acceptance of my mother’s attitude, to respecting her stance (probably not a common one in the 1950’s). We all know how commercial it has become, and how “every day is Mother’s Day.”  But how many of us actually are just happy to get breakfast in bed, dinner at a restaurant, get presents, generally enjoy the pampering, and yes, it’s true, we deserve it.  We don’t say anything about the socio-political ramifications of the day because, well, we feel guilty. Our loved ones went to all the trouble.

But let’s look at it another way, and perhaps our loved ones will understand. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the United States get to pick and choose what we listen to. We are bombarded with news, and unless we make an effort, that news is just about us. Yes, we may hear about the new French President, or an earthquake in Japan, but most of the chatter in the United States is about the United States.  Do we hear about mothers in other countries? Rarely.

I met Christy Turlington Burns at a TED conference in 2010 where I was a speaker. At that time, I learned that Christy,  former model turned filmmaker and activist,  had started an advocacy and mobilization campaign called Every Mother Counts. She seeks to increase the dialogue about the role of women around the globe, and specifically increase education and support for maternal mortality reduction around the world. I learned that a woman dies every 90 seconds from complications from pregnancy, most of which are preventable.  Last week on Twitter, Christy and I engaged in a conversation about women and Mother’s Day, and she told me what her organization is doing this Mothers Day to raise awareness. She asked if I wanted to help, and I said of course.


Every Mother Counts is launching a No Mother’s Day campaign wherein they ask that women refrain from emailing, tweeting, updating their status on Facebook—maybe even refrain from speaking– on Mothers Day this year as ashow of solidarity with at-risk mothers around the globe. Be “silent” for the day, in hopes of sparking a larger dialogue about this issue.  I told Christy I would draw a cartoon for the effort that she could use as she wanted, and we decided to do a caption contest. She posted my drawing on the Every Mother Counts FB page, and we received a number of great captions. Christy and I chose our favorite, and below are the two versions: my original cartoon on the left, and the winning caption on the right, done by Patrick Kilmer.


My mother didn’t want any gifts on Mother’s Day, and I always obliged, as hard as it was sometimes. She would have loved this campaign. Because it’s not about buying things, it’s about thinking of others.

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