“Nothing is really lost until your mom can't find it.”
Mom's and Mothering
Happy Mother’s Day, ladies. In honor of the occasion, this week’s Snack Break is all about moms and mothering. There’s obviously infinite material on the topic, so the selections below are just a small, and we hope, interesting sample.
Where did Mother's Day come from?
On that note, as we were researching all things mom, we realized we didn’t actually know where the Mother’s Day holiday comes from. Yes, lots of people say it’s just a Hallmark, money-making, creation. And to some degree, that may be true, especially these days. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $28.1 billion for Mother’s Day celebrations this year. But the annual holiday didn’t start out as a gift-giving event. In fact, in the late 19th century and early 20th century it was a way for women activists to promote global peace, according to this National Geographic story. The day obviously evolved out of its anti-war origins into a more general celebration, but one thing remained steady throughout: using flowers as a symbol of the holiday.
When Mother's Day is Hard
In its modern incarnation, Mother’s Day is a lovely time to celebrate for many. But we also know that Mother’s Day is not without its complications because we know that mother and child relationships are not without their complications. Some, in fact, are so fraught that they lead to estrangement, as the author of this thoughtful essay in Marie Claire experienced. Others are marked by the pain of loss, abandonment or abuse. Some never come to be because of infertility or because of conscious choice, even against the tide of social expectations. The way mothers and their children relate and interact is no monolith, nor is the way women themselves view Mother’s Day, and the two articles linked here are important reminders of that. We wanted to include them because we are sensitive to the challenges of this day, of how triggering it can be for people, sometimes bringing up sadness, isolation or despair. So, to any of you reading this, and feeling any of these feelings, we are sending loads of love your way.
Nontraditional Ways to Celebrate
If you are planing to celebrate in some way, but if stuffy brunches, gifts and bouquets of roses, et al, just aren’t your cup of tea—yes, even of the special Mother’s Day herbal matcha lemon-infused invigorating sort—then this guide might come in handy. It offers a more unusual take on gifting for the maternal set. From writing a song for your mom (or helping your kids to do so), to creating your own wrapping paper, to actually asking the mom(s) in your life how they want to spend the day and delivering, the piece has a few pretty nice ideas to try.
In other news entirely, but oh so covid-era appropriate and still obviously mom-related, we’ve been seeing headlines lately about the possibility that vaccinated pregnant and breast-feeding women may be passing Covid-19 antibodies onto their infants. While the emerging science suggests this may be true, researchers have more work to do to answer questions like how long after immunizations women can pass the antibodies, how long protection to the infants would last and more. Still, that hasn’t stopped some women from using their vaccine status to try and sell their breastmilk online. Some have even added a dash of it here and there into their un-vaccinated husbands’s breakfast smoothie, taking the term “super food” to a whole new level…
All Hail Grandmas
Oh, and remember Abigail Tucker, the author who’s new book “Mom Genes” we wrote about last week? Well she had a story in the New York Times this week about the biggest asset in a new mom’s tool box, which often just happens to be her own mom. Her piece is based on research that suggests that the presence of a grandmother—human or animal, in the case of whales—can even improve a baby’s chance of survival. “That innocent-looking older lady,” Tucker writes of the research findings, “is a new mother’s secret weapon and often her most crucial source of “social support” — an emotional buffer with physiological heft.” As it turns out, pregnant women and new mothers who feel socially supported have better psychological outcomes such as less stress (and therefore fewer complications in birth), less post-partum depression and exhaustion, healthier newborns and even more success breastfeeding. All hail the grandmas!
Finally, we thought we’d leave you with a story published last summer that our VERY OWN content director, Danielle Shapiro, wrote and that includes quotes from one of our founders, Karissa Akin. It’s about a group of moms (Danielle and Karissa among them) that ski together every Thursday throughout the winter, trudging for hours up mountains in search of airy powder and epic lines on the way down. But this kind of skiing in avalanche terrain doesn’t come without its risks, which is what the story digs into—how confronting, managing and learning to understand risk makes these women better moms. We thought it was an apt piece for the moment.