2-1-05 Sue Ontiveros, Sun-Times food editor. Photo by Jim Frost Sun-Times.
Updated: June 14, 2012 8:21AM
On this Mother’s Day, I want to visit with my sweet little mother, something I am lucky to still be able to do. Spending time with my boy is on the list, too. So is relaxing, maybe finishing what I’m reading for book club.
I do not want to be made to feel guilty because I don’t choose to spend the day saving the world.
I should have spoken up about all this when the breast cancer movement decided that Mother’s Day was when we — mostly women, and a whole lot of moms — should get up before dawn to walk and raise money for breast cancer.
I get that breast cancer is serious business; the American Cancer Society estimates that although breast cancer death rates are down, this year the disease will take the lives of 39,510 American women. My mom has breast cancer and because of her vigilance with mammograms, it was caught early. So I am all for breast cancer fund-raising and increasing awareness, and I do my part.
But do I really have to do it on Mother’s Day? Prostate cancer is a major health concern for men — it’s their second-leading cause of cancer death — but is anyone asking them to lace up sneakers and walk en masse on Father’s Day? No.
I have grudgingly given in on that front, but when I heard about this latest attempt to hijack the holiday, I decided enough is enough.
It’s being called No Mother’s Day, spearheaded by former supermodel Christy Turlington Burns. (It’s also the name of a documentary she did.) The wife of actor Ed Burns doesn’t sound like she was ever much of a fan of the traditional day, telling the AP she “goes through the motions” and dislikes the commercial aspect of the holiday. Now she wants mothers to “disappear” for the day to call attention to the issue of maternal mortality during pregnancy or childbirth. There are about 360,000 deaths globally every year. Moms are to remain silent all day, not see anyone, use electronic devices or receive any gifts.
Aw, come on. Why can’t they designate another day? Leave my peaceful, relaxing Mother’s Day alone.
Again, I support the cause, I really do (I remember so clearly Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Half the Sky, telling Oprah’s audience that what should be so joyful — getting pregnant — is one of the most dangerous things a woman in developing countries can do). I’m all for anyone visiting www.EveryMotherCounts.org or watching Turlington Burns’ documentary.
Still, I’m not wavering; hands off Mother’s Day. Judging from the chatter on blogs and across the Internet, I’m not alone in this sentiment. There are a lot of people — particularly moms — taking issue with this attempt to remake Mother’s Day. Yeah, I know, the first Mother’s Day was conceived as a peace movement day, but it has evolved and a lot of people enjoy paying tribute to mom one day of the year.
As a supermodel, Turlington Burns had many a day in the spotlight. But for too many moms, Mother’s Day is their sole day to be treated special. Do we really have to take that away from them to help others?
She and her supporters can sit in silence. But don’t expect the rest of us to join in. And cool it with the self-righteous attitude toward those who simply want to enjoy the day.