Word from a mother

Heads up, Mother’s Day is this Sunday.

That should give the pathetic ingrates among ye enough time to get a card in the mail, or at least enter an alert on your smartphone to give a call before noon. After that, she knows you forgot and were only reminded by the florist’s van pulling up to your neighbor’s house.

The wise kids know they might do a little more, lest your mama show up at your workplace, bemoaning your ingratitude with a wailing performance based on Act One of Shakespeare’s King Lear: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!”

Even if your mother doesn’t have a melodramatic streak, you’d better give her something if you don’t want to drive a snake fang through her overwrought heart. You may be tempted by the yearly marketing rampage that dangles fancy household appliances and grotesquely–designed jewelry as viable options. Do not fall prey. Mothers do not want a new washing machine so that we can wash even more of your dirty socks. We have no use for another pair of earrings unless there are earplugs attached to them.

Even the homemade stuff loses luster after so many years, because let’s face it, every item, even those made with love and probably a little snot, is just something else to dust or store. I promise I do cherish my collection of lovely Tybee shell necklaces and stacks of plates with handprints. But my kids have been “stamping wrinkles in my brow of youth” (more Shakesey for ya) for quite some time now, and I’d rather they put their efforts into cleaning their rooms. All I’m lobbying for this year is a glitter–adorned gift certificate for four daytime hours of absolute silence.

Actually, there really isn’t a gift fantastic enough for the woman who grew your little homunculus self in her uterus, pushed you out through her vagina (or not, C–section sisters), wiped your little tushie, fed you nutritious snacks, bought you the fancy sneakers and still worries when you drive after dark.

(By the way, I have made the discovery that the word “vagina” is basically social kryptonite. Say it loudly and watch all the men in the vicinity back away nervously, as if you’re about to whip yours out and launch into some terrifying interpretive dance piece with sociopolitical overtones. It’s super fun.)

Let’s be honest. The best present ever given to the mothers of the world? Birth control.

Sorry, did that just freak you out? All mothers have had sex at least once, yours included. If she’s lucky, she’s had plenty of sex since you were born. And if she didn’t want to keep expelling more humans out of her vagina (ooh, I just saw someone gulp uncomfortably!) she probably made good use of the advances in contraception in the past 50 years.

In the last century, American women in general have benefited from the power to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, which has reduced health risks and allowed participation in higher education, business and politics. And when you already know damn well how much physical strength and intestinal fortitude and frickin’ money it takes to raise even one or two children, the ability to plan the size of one’s family becomes even more valuable.

Need a primer of what life was like before birth control? Read Dr. Aa’s Pennyroyal Tabules, a newly–released novella by Beaufort, SC writer and activist Lisa Annelouise Rentz. Living in the Lowcountry during the late 1920s, Dr. Aa is a charlatan who hawks worthless pills to desperate women through the want ads and then blackmails them under the Comstock Laws, which banned the distribution of contraceptives or any information about them through the mail.

As Rentz’s Twitter page reckons, he is no doubt the kind of douchey hypocrite who would organize an all–male Senatorial birth control panel.

Though the main characters are fictional, they are based on true events. Rentz includes cameos of historical figures, including the mother of modern birth control, Margaret Sanger, who was indicted in 1914 for postal obscenity in the form of sending out her contraceptive advice pamphlet, The Woman Rebel.

Many begging for Dr. Aa’s help in the story are mothers already taxed to illness by their current brood and afraid to die in childbirth. These chilling pleas are real, sourced by Rentz from Sanger’s 1928 collection of actual letters, Motherhood in Bondage.

The current political push to make birth control more difficult to obtain by defunding Planned Parenthood and allowing employers to impose their religious beliefs by manipulating health insurance drags us back to dark times indeed. It’s no less fundamentalist than insisting we all wear burquas and walk ten feet behind our husbands.

It can be argued that access to reliable birth control drives the success of this country. Limiting it threatens our health, our economy and our future.

While the bills currently being considered by the Georgia Assembly aren’t quite as odious as the all–out womb attacks in Arizona (where an amendment stating that life begins two weeks before conception is currently sitting on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk), they’re not far off for their bid to control women’s Fallopian tubes.

Make no mistake, the battleground of birth control is a war on mothers. Not to mention on the women who don’t want to become mothers, those who might want to become mothers one day but would like to finish school, travel the world and/or achieve any variety of personal goals first, and the rest of the people who love them.

It’s an outrage, and you can bet it will dictate where my vote goes at the state and national levels this fall and every election henceforth.

This Mother’s Day, a promise that you’ll stand up for the reproductive rights of all women is the best gift you can give your mom. Along with a pair of earplugs.

Oh, and from this mother to all y'all: Vagina!


About The Author

Jessica Leigh Lebos

Community Editor Jessica Leigh Lebos has been writing about interesting people, vexing issues and anything involving free food for more than 20 years. She introduces herself at cocktail parties as southern by marriage.
Comments (1)

Add a comment

Add a Comment
  • or

Right Now On

Now Playing

By Film...

By Theater...