what i really want for mother's day this year
It’s Mother’s Day and there’s only one thing we, the mothers, want this year.
Stop forcing women to become mothers.
We want no unwilling recruits to join our ranks.
I want no woman, not one, not ever, to be forced to serve a lifelong sentence performing the job for which I volunteered.
I am a mother by choice.
It was my CHOICE. But guess what? Lots of women make choices every day, and that doesn’t mean that the world listens to them.
My choice wasn’t flapping out there in the wind by itself. My choice had backup. My choice was met with an open hand: my education, my rights, my access to care, my financial means, and my healthy relationship.
I made a choice, and because my choice was accepted by all the systems that surrounded me, that choice was consistent birth control until motherhood.
I want to share the indescribable joy and the unfathomable aggravation of motherhood with my fellow mothers, my sisters and colleagues. I want to laugh with my girls at the gallows humor that still buoys us, even on our lowest days. I want to cry with my girls for no reason, or every reason, no explanation required. I want to listen to friends say things they thought were unspeakable and say, “I feel that way, too.” I want to be there to help dismantle your shame. I want to hold your hand.
Even if we aren’t friends, I want to be a known quantity, a visible life raft for you as you move through the world: another mom, she gets it, she knows how to help.
I want to hold the door open for your stroller. I want to lend you a diaper. I want to smile at you and your child when he’s screaming at checkout. I want to tap you on the shoulder at pickup and tell you that your daughter said the funniest thing, or that I think your new haircut is killer.
We, the mothers, want to be the ones who understand why our job is a magnificent goddamn slog for which we can never be appropriately thanked. We want to be the ones who understand why you’re crying: was it a hug, a kiss, a card written in fat marker? Was it a really rough morning? We know.
We share the forced zen of mothers who chose motherhood without really know what this job was. “It is what it is,” we say through clenched teeth. We know.
We share the forced imperative to work our own shit out before we hurt the kids we chose to have with it. “I wish I weren’t so mad all the time.” We text it but don’t say it. We know.
Our motherhood forced us to transform. We found we had to sacrifice the people we used to be for the people we birthed and the people we needed to become to raise them. Even if it feels unfair sometimes, we picked it. Even if we didn’t know what we were picking, we know we drove ourselves to this spot.
Motherhood itself was not forced upon us and that’s why our transformation is bearable, even sometimes joyful. We were not kidnapped into a permanent makeover. We were not snatched and dropped into a new life we didn’t want or understand.
Send us a woman whose motherhood was forced upon her and we will open our hearts and arms and homes and bottles and refrigerator doors to her. She is my sister. I’ll have her back. I’ll go down fighting by her side.
But for Mother’s Day this year, what I really want is for you to teach her about sex, pleasure, pregnancy, and birth control, and make that birth control available and affordable. What I really want is for you to expect that she do something great, whatever she wants, whatever she dreams. What I really want is for her to believe that her dreams are goals, not fantasies. What I really want is for you to make it safe for her to go on a date, make out, and what I really want is for her to be able to say yes and enjoy that human experience without a lifelong consequence, or say no and be heard, immediately, the first time. I want her choices to be met by the open hands of circumstance and systems. I want her choices to have backup, and if she chooses to become a mother, I want her motherhood to have backup, too.