Happy Mother’s Day to All! Mabuhay Moms!

Mabuhay to all moms. Mother’s Day is fast approaching, Sunday May 14. How fitting that Mother’s Day is in spring. Like the season that brings rebirth of nature, the season associated with warmth, hope and new beginnings – our mothers give us life and all the nurturing to help us grow and thrive.

Universally we hold our mothers close to our hearts that Mother’s Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries around the world. No matter what form of government or predominant religions a country might have, what many of us share is our love for our mothers that we designate one day in the year to specifically honor them (of course celebrating our mothers is not just relegated to one day).

According to Pew Research, there are an estimated 2.2 billion mothers living in the world right now. In the U.S. that figure is 85 million.

Interestingly, the National Retail Federation reported that spending for Mother’s Day has gone up even during the peak of the pandemic, as well as the current high inflation which started last year. Stats show no matter what economic lows we are faced with, Americans spending on Mother’s Day continues to go up. Again, this shows how much we value our mothers.

Last year, Americans spent $31.7 billion in total on Mother’s Day.

Flower shops and restaurants were the largest recipients of Mother’s Day spending. On just flowers alone Americans spent $2.9 billion. For florists, Mother’s Day is third for the most lucrative holiday of the year, behind Valentine’s Day and Christmas. With COVID-19 restrictions gone and the virus under control, the National Restaurant Association predicts that this year will have diners back up to pre-pandemic levels, or possibly higher.

Besides flowers, Mother’s Day cards are top sellers, and the Greeting Card Association says Mother’s Day cards are only second to Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Other top retail items are jewelry, gift cards and clothing.

Trends of today’s mothers in the U.S.
Today’s moms are more educated than ever and a majority of women with a child are in the labor force. From just a decade ago, childbearing is back up, specifically for women entering their late childbearing years (40 to 44), according to Pew Research Center. In general, women are becoming mothers later in life. The median age at which women become mothers is 26.

While more mothers are in the labor force, today’s mothers are also on average spending more time with their children, relative to the earlier years when mothers entered the workforce and raised latchkey children (1980s). This is a sign that mothers are managing their home/family and work life with better ease.

Experts say, this could be in part, that women are becoming mothers later in life after having more experience in the workforce.

Pew Research Center reports that a whopping 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 have mothers as either the primary source of income or the sole income-earner for the family. This isn’t to say that women now are now making more than men on average.

Breadwinner moms fall into two categories: 1) those who are married and make more than their husbands (37%), and 2) single moms (63%).

How many children are mothers having today? Less. Compared to mothers in the 1960s with an average of 3.7 children, today’s mothers are having, on average, 1.9 children. American Hispanics have the highest average of children at 2.2, followed by non-Hispanic black mothers at 1.9. American Asians and non-Hispanic white mothers have the lowest average at 1.8.

Interpreting some of these trends is value-based. For example, while single-parenting is up for mothers, it also shows that singe-mothers are also capably self-sufficient compared to mothers in earlier decades. Another example, while mothers are having less children, they are also spending more time with the children they do have.

In general, we see that mothers are more adjusted to the workforce demands and parenting compared to when mothers first started to enter the labor force. In this light, the status of mothers could be interpreted as “better” in the context contemporary modern society.

A big mahalo
In Filipino and Asian culture, the concept of owing debt to those who’ve helped us is a strong cultural trait. In American society, we have a similar concept of giving back, which is somewhat different in that the idea of giving back, at least for those who have that ability, means giving back to society in the form of charitable work or involvement in religious or civic groups.

While Filipinos and Asians do that as well, their concept of owing debt is specific to those who’ve aided in enhancing their lives. And that debt is very deep, taken seriously and means responsibility.

For example, we all love our mothers, but until today in Filipino culture, it also means we will take care of them when the time comes as needed. In a way, this cycle of debt, not only makes us “good” (relative to our own culture) enough to be responsible in caring for our aging mothers and fathers, but it also means that we will try our best to be “good” (again relative to our culture) parents making all the sacrifices we can, knowing (and actually expecting) that our children will be there for us in our golden years.

Of course, it sounds too calculating when expressed this way, but it’s cultural and an aspect of our Filipino values system.

Ultimately, like for most families, it boils down to love that we have Mother’s Day and that we cherish our moms throughout the year.

We wish all mothers are very special, meaningful and fun Mother’s Day. Mahalo for all that you do.

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