Mom. She’s knelt before her toddler, speech measured, expression concerned. Slowly, she convinces the young girl to please release the plush lamb clenched tightly in her fist and return it to her baby brother. The negotiation could rival an FBI field agent’s approach to a hostage crisis, but it seems a lot less glamorous: it’s the heart of a pandemic, she’s in sweats and her virtual presentation starts in 10 minutes.
It feels, at this moment, like world-changing work is happening within the actual FBI or in a federal courthouse halfway across the country, but this exchange is the start of such work. Love thy neighbor, after all, begins with love thy brother, and our push for a world of kindness and respect commences with the arduous task of teaching children to consider others’ needs, to ask before grabbing and to walk away rather than hit. There are great evils outside of these walls, wars and corruption and greed, but the first monster is the one our mother sees and helps tame: the one within ourselves.
For eighteen years and then some, she leads us from kicking and screaming to engaging in rational discussion, a process that manifests in far more than sweet evening croons over sleepy children. It’s in the bottomless nights, the phone at the bedside, ever in anticipation of a call. It’s in her stance, arms extended, scales hung heavily upon them in the endless balance between justice and mercy, discipline and compassion. It’s the stalwart return to her family every morning, facing nose-dives off furniture and stolen cookies, lies about where her teenager went last night, fights with middle school friends, the backtalk, the apologies, the forgiveness. Years from now, these moments will influence government policy, corporate board structure, activism efforts, and philanthropy in ways she’ll never know. Yet her influence is unmistakable.
This Mother’s Day, make a point to recognize her impact. For a more intentional thank you, look to the toasting good gift guide, a tribute to the messy and crucial work of raising the strong, kind humans we need to lead our world. Loaded with ethical, well-made products for her to enjoy, the guide represents companies committed to advancing the work she began in her children to create a better world for all of us. By purchasing from one of these social enterprises, you can help move the needle in celebration of the work she’s done and continues to do by empowering those around the globe with the means to do the same.
The gift guide includes products such as:
-A robust care kit — bath salts, reflection journal, and more — from MADE by DWC, an L.A.-based social enterprise providing women with employment to end the cycle of chronic homelessness.
-Candles from Bright Endeavors, which trains young Chicago moms in job skills and provides them with job placement services.
-Apparel affirming, “You are enough” from the Do Good Shop, a company committed to creating a more positive world by selling clothing that inspires, employing workers that have spent time in foster care and donating 10% of its profits back to organizations making a difference in the community.
-Soup and cornbread mixes from the Women’s Bean Project, a Colorado nonprofit that hires chronically unemployed women.
-Jewelry from TARA (Trade Alternative Reform Action), which employs over 1000 artisan families in India, offering them sustainable wages, education, and health care.
-A variety of other products from companies making a difference through their work.
By all means, shower your mother this Mother’s Day with flowers and cards and Facebook posts and brunch over Zoom. But consider adding to your hurrah a gift that gives back as another well-deserved way of saying thanks.