Keeping The Balance on Mother’s Day
By Ilana Jael
Dedicated to Susan Maistros Rothman
Instead of opening the pages of your latest issue of Vogue to a yet another flawless taut body or opening your Instagram to whatever else is “hip” today, in honor of Mother’s Day, you may want to take a look at these hips instead. They may be a little wider than you’re used to, and the plain black panties and frumpy black bra resting above them is no advent in high fashion. The subject’s tummy is also a bit more ample than our advertised “average”, and crinkles towards its dark belly button center. This is no great beauty shot, but maybe that’s because it shouldn’t be; as rewarding as motherhood is, it isn’t always glamorous.
Photographed by Mikaela Shannon for a series aimed at helping women love their postpartum bodies, one woman is seen here visually struggling to keep her two children from slipping through her fingers, one hand under each bum. With their almost identical skin tones and physical intimacy, the group seems close, almost as though they are one three-pronged creature, their blood, flesh and soul one and the same. One of the bouncing babes wears heart-patterned tighty-whities while the other rocks black underpants, so one may even be reminded of the infuriatingly two-sided nature of motherhood itself. Along with all of the heartwarming aspects of taking care of their children and helping them grow, mothers have to deal with dirty diapers and messy playrooms, rage-full rebellion and toddler’s terrible twos. And though many mothers consider rearing their children their lives’ greatest achievement, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to keep all the balls––or in this case, babes––in the air.
86% of Americans are planning to celebrate Mother’s Day this year, spending close to an all time record high of an average $180 per person. And though the holiday is sometimes thought of as a children’s affair, the extravaganza’s biggest spenders will actually be between the ages of 35-44. Maybe we only learn to appreciate our mothers when we are mature enough to realize how much they have done for us, and how little time we may have left to enjoy their company. We’re certainly eager to talk to them; more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year, with network traffic spiking by as much as 37%. Friendships fade, lovers come and go, and not everyone has a religion to observe, but damn near everyone loves their mother.
And as the relationship between mother and child isn’t always a smooth one, it’s also fitting that Mother’s Day’s own “mother” Anna Jarvis had some pretty big issues with her unruly child. Jarvis was inspired to create the holiday in 1908 by the memory of her mother, activist and civil war nurse Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. Thanks to Jarvis’s soulful evangelicalism, the observance quickly took off, becoming an official national holiday in 1914. But she soon became disheartened by its rampant commercialization, actually becoming so upset that she started an unsuccessful campaign to abolish the holiday. Later in life, she memorably preached:
“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world”, believing instead that “any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card.”
I for one, agree. As important and long-suffering as mothers are, appreciating them shouldn’t be relegated to one day a year, or to impersonal, cliché gifts. Your mother deserves more than half-hearted, last minute greeting cards from Hallmark and chalky chocolates from Russel Stover- she deserves the best you can offer her, and that can only come from the heart.