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Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Mother’s Day 2024

Today is Mother’s Day, and we’ll devote space here to pay them tribute. Fathers, you have to wait for June, but we won’t forget you, either.

At this time of year we remember the story a friend told us about her mother, who hated to be taken to lunch on Mother’s Day. “I don’t want to be sitting there with some old dolls with corsages pinned to their dresses,” the mother said, “with people who forget them for the rest of the year.”

Funny, yes, but what is undeniably serious are the challenges 21st-century parents face, problems that only 20 years ago were unimaginable.

It’s no revelation that every generation looks back with envy at what seems an easier time to raise children.

Past generations didn’t have head-spinning technological advances, and methods of communication multiplying almost by the hour, causing many parents to wonder if all the wizardry of instant access to others that their children possess is really just another tool to sell them things they don’t need and construct increased walls of isolation from the real, alive, breathing world.

Our new age is one where children have electronic hand-sized tyrants bringing them media 100 mph every minute of every day. See Nancy Green’s column where she examines the danger of social media, especially TikTok, on young minds and emotions.

But some things don’t change. The challenges to meet the high cost of food, clothes and education are front and center for those who care for children. The mothers who are steadfast in their roles have always understood that meeting those challenges will bring rewards for their hard work.

Coordinating their children’s education and keeping a household functioning daily has sent all parents — mostly mothers — into a whirlwind of days and nights that start early and never stop.

Many mothers must accept the responsibility by themselves for keeping a family together and helping young ones navigate the uncertainties and fears of childhood.

According to 2022 data from the U.S. Census, one in three American children, or 24 million, live with single parents, 80% of whom are mothers. But even with two adults raising kids, both are more likely to work outside the home than in times past.

Close to home, we find many mothers struggling. Statistics from the New York State Community Action Association found that in Suffolk County, 20% of families with a woman as head of a household with children are living in poverty.

This is a time to count blessings and celebrate the women who have set us on a path to a good life. But it’s a time to consider the mothers who are struggling to keep their children healthy in every aspect of life. We can remember them through our local charities, and during election season, where we can learn if candidates care, or are even aware of those building the foundations of our future, and will pledge to put in place policies that will help the caretakers.

And so, it’s time to celebrate, and Americans don’t stint when it comes to making sure mothers have a special day. According to the National Retail Federation, $33.5 billion will be spent on this Sunday’s festivities, which will make Mom smile, but also help our Island businesses and restaurants.

Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at the Reporter.