But, Christy Turlington, Tired But Happy Mom Likes Mothers’ Day—and She Likes Supporting Mothers

Tired But Happy Mom could not help but notice that Mothers’ Day is on Sunday, May 13. One of the reasons she couldn’t help but notice is that three years ago, Little Boy finally emerged from her groaning 40-year-old body after 22 hours of honest-to-goodness labor. This exit time was double that of his two older sisters, and weighing in at nine-and-a-half pounds, Little Boy beat them both by more than two pounds. Of course, Little Boy is nothing but sheer delight. All the same, Tired But Happy Mom could not help but notice.


The other reason she has made note of the annual tribute is that the former model turned activist Christy Turlington is everywhere in the media to ask mothers not to participate in Mothers’ Day.


According the maternal health rights organization Turlington founded in 2010 (called Every Mother Counts), 358,000 mothers die each year from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Turlington hopes that by remaining silent on their day, moms can attract awareness to the health needs of mothers-to-be. No cards, no brunch, no tweets, no communication. “Moms should be able to dictate how they want others to honor them,” Turlington told Time in a recent interview. “It’s about taking that back.”


Now, maternal health issues are, obviously, of vital importance. No one, certainly not Tired But Happy Mom, would dispute that. Indeed, mothers’ health and rights in general are of immediate concern to her. Just over a year ago, Tired But Happy Mom herself was hospitalized repeatedly for stress-related illnesses stemming from her struggles to provide for her family. And she still can’t afford to pay those medical bills because the only crummy health insurance she could afford failed to pay for the thousands of dollars it cost to run the litany of CAT scans, MRIs, X-rays, and sundry tests necessary to fix her addled system. This incident alone made personal the political issues of mothers’ health, healthcare, economic parity, childcare, and probably a bunch more that Tired But Happy Mom will think of later. The point is, she gets it.


She also gets that her problems have nothing on families in Africa, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and every developing region of the world. This is why she is especially interested in micro-economic initiatives that support working mothers on an ongoing basis.


Tired But Happy Mom was thus extremely psyched to learn that her pal and Little Treehouse founder, Rachael Williams, is developing a line of line of children’s clothing using the same design aesthetic as the play space and cafe—vibrant colors reminiscent of Africa, with imaginative, playful details from folk art which she hopes to have produced by women living in rural areas in Kenya. Sewing by hand as well as on treadle sewing machines, these women will be able to make a living wage without having to leave their families and live in the slums of the big cities. Such women’s cooperatives have been successful in Africa and elsewhere in providing education and healthcare to families.


Supporting this kind of initiative—the kind that actually puts work, money, and, hopefully, small-scale social reform within mothers’ reach—is what Tired But Happy Mom likes to do, no matter what day it is.


Back to Turlington’s Mothers’ Day boycott. Tired But Happy Mom definitely gets that good-hearted celebrities deploy publicity stunts to get attention for the very good work they very often do. But a lot of money goes into producing such stunts—millions of dollars a lot. And what Tired But Happy Mom suspects (as a number of studies have born out) is that one-off events such as Turlington’s don’t often yield much. Rather, they give people the sense that because they participated in a single day of activity, they’ve accomplished something lasting. Then, they go back to their regular, complicated lives.


So, here’s the thing. Tired But Happy Mom will continue to support efforts made on behalf of struggling moms, and she’s always on the alert for new ways to be involved. But she will not be participating in Turlington’s boycott. Mothers’ Day actually means a lot to her—and to her children.


Oldest Daughter, Younger Daughter, and Little Boy like whispering outside the bedroom door on Mothers’ Day morning, arguing about who is going to bring in the chocolate croissant and who is responsible enough to handle the coffee in bed (not Little Boy). They feel very professional giving Tired But Happy Mom homemade facials made of natural but somewhat uncertain ingredients they have gathered from the garden and spice cabinet. They surge with pride when she gleefully opens their hand-drawn cards and portraits. Frankly, they know their mom is tired, and they feel useful giving her a break one day of the year.


Let’s be honest. Christy Turlington seems like a great mom, a nice person, and a hard worker. In fact, Tired But Happy Mom’s minimal encounters with Turlington (their daughters are both gymnasts) suggest exactly that. But like a lot of celebrities, she’s got a lot of money, a lot of help, and she does a lot of yoga. Most moms don’t get to have those things. What they do get is Mothers’ Day.


And the pay-off for that single day, at least in Tired But Happy Mom’s household? Priceless.



Tired But Happy Mom is also known as Susan Gregory Thomas, author of In Spite of Everything: A Memoir (Random House: July, 2011) and Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds (Houghton Mifflin: May, 2007). Thomas writes for The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, Marie ClaireParents, and others. She lives with her family in Philadelphia.


1 Comment

  1. Lisle

    Go, Tired But Happy Mom! Totally agree–and Happy Mothers’ Day.

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