For Mother’s Day, instead of a store bought trinket or a bouquet of scented blooms, and at the risk of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant, this year, I am giving my mom a better world.
Being born as my mother’s daughter is my extraordinary good fortune. I always benefitted from her nurturing, her patience, her strengths, her personal sacrifice. I never doubted her love for me. I have been a part of her since before my first breath, and will be loved by her beyond her final breath. This, I know.
Even so, I didn’t have that ‘knowing’ until tiny forming hearts beat in rhythm with my own; until first smiles and first steps and words, scraped knees and fevers, laughter and silly songs, growing pains and tears, moments and years, teaching to fly and saying goodbye…..it was then that I knew deep in my marrow…there simply are no words to describe that kind of mother-loving. When God entrusted two unique and brilliant girls into my arms, that was when I understood the extravagance of God’s belief in ordinary me. Being my daughters’ mother, offering them into this world, they are my ‘success’, my trust in the future, my promise from God and to God, that good things are, and will be.
And what of those mothers, whose trust, whose promises for the future have been severed?
I read the news of three hundred girls in Nigeria and I hear the desperation in their mothers’ voices, crying out for their children, stolen away, caught like prey, to be sold like commodities by evil profiteers to heartless abusers. Some have begged to trade places with their girls if only given the chance to save their child. We see and hear their personal torture and we sympathize with their sorrow. The anguish of those mothers is unbearable. Those of us blessedly connected in the sisterhood of motherhood…. we can feel their agony.
What happens to any child, could happen to my child….could happen to your child.
We console ourselves, shaking our heads at this heinous act against those girls and their bereft parents, rationalizing that this happens in a faraway place to people and by people who are different than us.
But according to UNICEF, “Trafficking is not just an issue that happens to people in other countries. The United States is a source and transit country, and is also considered one of the top destination points for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. States; anyone can be trafficked regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship when forcefully coerced or enticed by false promises.”
This cannot continue. We cannot accept a world where this occurs.
Courage will be required.
And it must begin with me.
A few days ago, I observed a man walking in front of me as I exited my local supermarket. He wore a shirt with an image on the back which was completely repulsive. Witnessing this image worn openly in a city of mostly upper class, educated, twenty first century Americans, leaves me incredulous… it is difficult for me to believe that anyone would create, must less purchase or publicly display such a disgusting message. But there it was nonetheless, in black and white, advertising for all to see.
On the solid black t-shirt, was the white outline of a naked woman in a provocative pose. The image was crisscrossed with more white lines, sectioning the woman into ’rump’, ‘breast’, ‘prime’…exactly like the poster of a sectioned steer, labeling the most desirable parts, hanging on a wall in a butcher’s shop.
According to this man, women are no different than animals to be used for one’s own personal satisfaction.
Revolted by it, I was indignant, angry. I should have spoken objection to him but I did not. My stomach turned, my head turned, I walked away. I excused myself believing that if he thinks so little of women, any words by me would not have made a difference.
And I’ve been ashamed of myself ever since. God help me.
My silence, my leaving the confrontation for someone else, allowed that man to continue thinking the message he displayed was acceptable, that some mother’s child is no more than commodity.
On this Mother’s Day, when I send my greetings with kind words signed with love, I am including an additional gift…
Tucked into the envelope, is my commitment to:
Support organizations and actions that promote respect toward all girls and women.
Show no tolerance for exploitation of others.
Speak up when I observe denigration of others.
This I do in solidarity with all mothers…because every person you meet is someone’s beloved child.
Happy Mother’s Day mom. I will be example of your ‘success’. I will be your promise that good things are, and will be.