Looking for something special to get mom this mother's Day? Forget the flowers, jewelry, chocolates or dining out, all things that sound suspiciously like another Hallmark holiday, and imagine something truly original.
Give all mothers the gift of universal paid maternity leave. Actually, it's not that original since almost every other country in the world provides it, even poverty stricken third world countries where women are second class citizens.
However in America, where we like things fast and cheap, three months of unpaid leave is considered a fitting amount of time and money to dedicate to one of the most significant events in any family, though many moms agree it's not enough time to bond with a baby.
California and New Jersey fare slightly better than the rest of the country, with paid leave lasting six weeks at 55 percent of pay capped at $987 a week in California and $559 a week in New Jersey. In both cases, the leave is paid purely by employees while companies are off the hook.
This is sad considering women employ 35 percent more poeple than all fortune 500 companies combined, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. And even sadder considering that while women make up 46 percent of the workforce, they also make up 59 percent of jobs that earn $8 an hour or less.
Add to that the fact that 19.6 million children were living with single mothers in 2009, and a sizable disparity between minority women and their already underpaid Caucasian counterparts, and America has created a recipe for poverty.
While men make more at 99 percent of all jobs and head only 16 percent of single-parent households, 27 percent of single mothers live below the poverty line. Even at this moment, social services for the poor are in jeopardy; many of them of them are women and children.
Which brings me to another great gift that will look stunning on mom: equal pay! Lily Ledbetter is the namesake of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the woman who fought long and hard for equal pay at the Goodyear company she worked at for more than two decades, a case she evetually lost.
Of course, her family also lost out, as she spent long hours away from home only to bring home significantly less money than male co-workers.
But mothers in particular face their own specific kind of employment discrimination, prompting some to start movements. For this kind of discerning mother, the gift of not being discriminated against at work for being a mom is a must.
There are few laws protecting mothers from employers who would rather hire any man or single woman in lieu of a female parent dragging behind her the entanglements of motherhood. However, women are routinely denied employment based on the fact they have children or are noticeably pregnant.
When children fall, mothers pick them up and kiss their gaping wounds. When are expectant mothers are at work, they are as though possibly life-threatening pregnancies don't even count as medical conditions. Employers commonly deny pregnant workers simple provisisons, such as being allowed to carry water bottles or sit on a stool at a cash register, according to a recent article on thinkprogress.org by Annie Rose-Strasser.
And of course, women are more likely than men to work the kind of jobs that require employees to be on their feet all day and not allow them to have water bottles, such as cashiers, who also must often "man their posts" at all times. (I know because I have spent a decade working several such jobs, even through my own pregnancy.) Fortunately for moms, (like me) some democrats decided to give their gift to mom's early when on Tuesday, they introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act into Congress.
Hopefully moms are able to open this gift, as well as the recently passed but imperiled Violence Against Women Act, which protects some of the most marginalized members of society including Native American women, LGBT and illegal immigrants. All of these groups are subject to much higher rates of violence than others and any mother is especially vulnerable to abuse when she has young ones to protect.Which is the essence of mothers; they're selfless, their love is unconditional, so show her some unconditional love with an important present--support There's an old proverb--it takes a village to raise a child.
This is as true today as it was back in the setting of communal tribes consisting of people depending on one another. Mothers represent the essence of what it means to be human and the quintessential communal nature of human existence. Providing sustenance from their own flesh and blood, giving life despite the labor and occaisonally sacrificing themselves in the process, perhaps the best Mother's Day gift is a serious commitment to treat mothers with the same love and compassion that spurs the masses to blow money on her behalf. Don't just pamper mom with a trip to the spa this year; improve her quality of life as a whole in this country right now, because mom's not getting any younger, you know.
Women are facing some of the same issues they did a hundred years ago, revisiting issues that had ceased being controversial decades ago. Don't let the last-minute nature of your present to your mother stop you from getting her what she really deserves--tender loving care.