My birthday was on December 2nd. Before sunrise, my phone blew up with “Happy Birthday” texts, many of which were likely prompted by Facebook reminders. These continued at a steady pace throughout the day. Some people chose to wish me a “Happy Birthday” via Facebook itself. A few “Birthday emails” made their way into my inbox. Traditionalists picked up the phone and rang, one (ready for this) from a land line. I even received a letter in my (gasp) physical mailbox.
Texts were the easiest to respond to. The majority of my well-wishers did not say “Happy Birthday Chris.” They simply texted what seemed to be a canned “Happy Birthday.” Thus, “Thank you, I appreciate it” was generic enough a response that cutting, pasting and using it to acknowledge those acknowledgments more than sufficed. Most of the balance of the texts read “Happy Birthday Chris.” Alas, these required individualized responses. I had to say, “Thank You (insert name here), I appreciate it.” Facebook posts were easy to “like” - err - respond to. Emails required a more in-depth retort. “Happy Birthday Chris, I hope you are well” obliged me to ensure my well-wishers via this medium that, indeed, all was ok in my world.
Mom’s Should Receive Our Happy Birthday Wishes
Most of us, myself included, feel obliged to wish friends and family members a “Happy Birthday.” Rarely, if ever, does anybody say “thank you” on our birthdays to the women that were primarily responsible for bringing us into this world: our respective mothers. We should make a point to do so. Moms endure stress, physical trauma, often get sick during pregnancy, put careers on hold and generally sacrifice so much to usher us into this ecosphere. They should be the recipients of our “Happy Birthday” wishes.
Superwomen, Short End Of The Changing Table
While it is true that on average men do more housework than they have in the past, for the most part, women continue to retain the lionesses' share of the domestic and child rearing responsibilities. And contrary to what we hear in the media about a pivot towards gender parity, married women currently spend more time on child care today than they did in generations past. And as opposed to generations past, many women now hold demanding corporate jobs too. This point was recently articulated by Aliya Hamid Rao in The Atlantic, “Married American mothers spend almost twice as much time on housework and child care than do married fathers. Although American mothers—including those with young children—are far more likely to be working now than in past decades, they spend more time on child care today than did moms in the 1960s.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women are outperforming men on a number of key metrics:
· ~55% of all bachelor's degrees are now awarded to women
· ~57% of master's degrees are awarded to women
· ~53% of PhD’s are awarded to women
In fact, women aged 25 and older now account for over half the college educated workforce in the United States. Yet the BLS determined that “women were also found to be doing more when it comes to caring for children in the home. On an average day where men and women have a child under the age of 6, women spent an average of 1.1 hours of physical care such as giving them a bath or feeding the child compared to 26 minutes for men.”
Why wish me, or anybody a happy birthday? It’s a wish-placed oops, rather a misplaced wish. We were all happy and helpless when our moms went through hell, commonly referred to as labor, and brought us into this world. Our first year or so on planet earth we ate, slept, pooped and cried. Our moms fed us when we were hungry, changed our diapers when they were soiled, bathed us, dressed us, took us to the pediatrician, and woke up in the middle of the night to soothe us. Wash, rinse, spin, repeat. Thank you mom.
As kids, mom got us ready for school, picked out our clothes, dressed us, prepared and packed our school lunches, talked to our teachers, arranged playdates, coordinated after-school activities, cooked dinner, cleaned the house, did the laundry and put us to sleep, among countless other, often thankless tasks.
Like all human beings, all moms are imperfect (sorry mom, if you happen to be reading this). But almost all moms put their children, husband, and home, first. They often sacrifice exciting careers and rewarding personal goals for the betterment of their loved ones, while juggling multiple responsibilities and often finding time to hit the gym and stay physically fit (no wonder so many moms feel they are being pulled in a thousand different directions at once).
What About Dad?
We would be remiss not to mention dad. On our birthdays we might want to give a well-deserved shout out to him too. Indeed, there are certainly situations where fathers shoulder more of the domestic burden. And in single parent homes or nontraditional families were there are two moms or two dads, responsibilities are divvied up differently. We do not want to discount those situations. They are real and becoming more common. But for the traditional family, empirical data clearly shows that it is still women and mothers who do a disproportionate amount of the heavy lifting inside the home.
I appreciated all the birthday wishes I received. I will take the liberty to say that when it’s your birthday, you probably appreciate them too. But instead, on my birthday, thank my mom. On your birthday, consider directing those birthday wishes to your mom. Why not make a point to use our respective birthdays as a reminder to thank all moms around the world.