Mother's Day is ostensibly a holiday intended to honor the sacrifices mothers make for their children. Yet during the other 364 days a year, we neglect to honor moms in quite the same way — and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) isn't shy about pointing that out.
In a Facebook post honoring Mother's Day on Sunday, the senator outlined three major changes the United States could make to better support women with children, including instituting paid work leave for new parents, time off to recuperate from an illness or care for a sick child and the ability to arrange work schedules around child care options, rather than the other way around.
Such changes, Warren wrote in the post, would prove beneficial not just for women who are moms, but for all parents and families.
"I love all the Mother's Day traditions — flowers, good-smelling things, a handmade card. We've built a whole national holiday around doing something for Mom," Warren wrote. "But if Mother's Day is about doing something for all moms, then I think it's time to focus on the things that would make a real difference."
As Warren notes, the United States is one of just a handful of countries that doesn't offer mandatory paid parental leave or scheduling that accommodates parents, even though such policies could dramatically improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of Americans.
While a few states have started enforcing paid family leave, current national policies (or lack thereof) fail to provide the sort of support parents need. They also happen to place a particular burden on women and mothers, who do a disproportionate amount of household and caretaker work despite our ever-evolving gender roles, and whose jobs and careers are likely to be harmed by having kids.
That means the question of whether or not to stay home with a sick child can become a question of making ends meet — the sort of question that doesn't get answered with a Hallmark card and a bouquet of flowers one Sunday in May.
Platitudes and pancakes aren't all bad, but they're not all we should be pushing for on Mother's Day — or any day, according to Warren. Policies that help parents and families might be a better way to show we care the rest of the time, even if they can't be enforced by next Mother's Day.
"We can raise these issues in line at the grocery store and sitting with other parents at the park. We can post about it," Warren wrote. "Every time we force this issue into the open, we honor the women in our lives."