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This May, Let’s Celebrate Motherhood in All of Its Joy and Complexity

By Stephanie Seabrooke

Ever since Mother’s Day was established as a national holiday in 1914, moms across the country have been celebrated with flowers, gifts, and cards every second Sunday in May. And while a day set aside to honor motherhood is a lovely gesture, it doesn’t truly acknowledge how challenging and complex that role can be. The woman beaming with pride as she watches her child perform at their school recital could have tossed and turned the night before, wondering if she should go back to work after years of being a stay at home mom. A top performing CEO who can give her kids every privilege imaginable may feel a pang of guilt mixed in with pride at her accomplishments as she spends another late night in the office. And the student returning to college to finish her degree wants to set an example of success for her kids, but may also be wondering how she will balance a full course load with raising a family. No matter how moms choose to approach parenthood, there’s no doubt that their journey will be full of incomparable joy – as well as moments of exhaustion, self-doubt, and hard work beyond anything they could have ever imagined. Yet you would be hard pressed to find a Mother’s Day greeting card that expresses this basic truth.

So this May, as we treat our moms to bouquets and brunch, we should also consider ways to celebrate the monumental impact of motherhood throughout the year. We can do this by valuing the contributions of all women who open their hearts to nurture, teach, and inspire future generations. This includes mentors, caregivers, and educators as well as moms. We can recognize that U.S. women are disproportionally responsible for domestic labor such as childcare and chores, even as many of them also hold full time jobs, and work to achieve gender equality both inside and outside the home. And we can encourage the dreams of goals of the women who have empowered us through their strength, love, and sacrifice. After all, motherhood is a twenty-four hour a day job – so our support for these incredible women shouldn’t only fall on a single day in May.

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