Updated: June 13, 2013 6:33PM
It’s Mother’s Day, but, of course, you know that because you couldn’t forget it if you wanted to.
The world is a total-immersion media bath dedicated to commerce, so we don’t see how you could’ve escaped the ads and commercials reminding you of the purchasing requirements of today. You might as well try to hide from an extinction-level meteor strike.
Commerce tracks your every waking moment, and Mother’s Day is big business.
Americans buy roughly 140 million cards for Mother’s Day, even though there are only about 83 million mothers in the country. We spend around $671 million on Mother’s Day cards and an average of $127 on gifts and flowers. The tab for all Mother’s Day spending in the U.S. is about $14.6 billion, which is about what it cost to bail out Chrysler and GM.
On the other hand, the status of moms in America could be better, and this is the right day to keep that in mind. The charitable group Save the Children issues an annual State of the World’s Mothers report, and it suggests that we talk a lot more about valuing moms than our actions show.
On the Mother’s Index, the global ranking system for maternal and infant health, Finland, Sweden and Norway top the list. The U.S. slipped from 25 to 30 this year.
More disturbing is that half of all first-day deaths in the industrialized world occur here. And among the 43 developed nations, America’s mothers have a 1 in 2,100 risk of pregnancy-related death — the worst of any industrialized nation.
We’re also one of the few advanced countries that doesn’t have a federal law guaranteeing working women paid maternity leave.
So go ahead and show mom your love today. Buy her a gift. Take her out to dinner. She’s earned it.
But as a nation, we should be doing more to help America’s mothers. It’s a tough, supremely important job, and many moms face a daily struggle with courage and self-sacrifice. We owe them a more meaningful payoff than flowers and chocolate once a year.