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One Mom, Every Mom, A Million Moms, and Several More Million Moms

There are apparently around 85 million moms in the United States. Maybe you are one of them.

Did you know that it only takes one mom? That could be you. You could be the one mom using your voice on behalf of the world's poorest. But in reality there were 10 social media moms who went to Kenya as part of a "movement to promote education, engagement and activism on behalf of the world's poorest. #ONEMOMS is an initiative of ONE, a grassroots organization cofounded by Bono and other activists that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease. ONE is backed by 2.5 million members and a series of partners.

Like #ONEMOMS, every mother counts believes that each and every mom is important. Led by Christy Turlington and a group of partners, this initiative is increasing education and awareness around maternal and child health, which includes the launch of a film called No Mother, No Cry.

But maybe one mom isn't enough to tackle the issues of every mother. Maybe we need a million moms. Thankfully, there are many millions of moms, because it seems they have different priorities, sometimes shared, sometimes divisive.

The original (?) million moms descended on the National Mall in Washington, DC in 2000 for the Million Mom March in support of tighter gun control. This is an initiative of the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence.

Then, the Christian American Family Association came along with its One Million Moms to fight the "filth many segments of our society, especially the entertainment media, are throwing at our children." I may agree with them on some issues, like the objectification of women and girls in the media. But I want to distance myself as far as possible from these million moms when they start protesting the possibility of Ernie and Bert getting married on Sesame Street or objecting to Chaz Bono being on Dancing with the Stars because they might have to explain to their children what transgender means. Or when they present Sarah Palin with the Faith, Family and Courage Award.

Next, there is the Million Moms Challenge, being organized by ABC News and the UN Foundation, as well as Johnson & Johnson and BabyCenter, and an online community powered by BlogFrog. Their goal is to engage "a million Americans with millions of mothers in the developing world around issues that directly impact pregnancy, childbirth and children's health" and to "raise awareness and funds to help women and children everywhere survive and thrive."

Finally (I think), there is the Million Mothers March (not to be confused with the Million Moms March) being organized by Breastfeeding Mothers Unite (not to be confused with Breastfeeding Moms Unite, my friend Melodie's great blog). The march is being planned for August 2012 in Washington, DC (at the National Mall) to fight increased incidences of harassment of breastfeeding mothers when they are nursing in public.

The one mom, every mom, and the many versions of the million moms have websites, facebook pages, twitter accounts, hash tags, campaigns, petitions, mailing lists and ambassadors. It all starts to blend together after a while. The good and the nasty. The important and the ridiculous.

My head is spinning. Is yours?

I want to be involved. I want to help. I want to look underneath these organizations to see who they are supporting and who is supporting them. But it is getting difficult. With so many initiatives and organizations and cross-pollination, yet separation, I must admit this one mom is getting lost in the shuffle.
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Reader Comments (10)

Never heard of a million moms of any kind, but have to say that I'm one of those who was glad to hear that Ernie and Bert weren't getting married. Not because I want to shelter my daughter from "bad" influences (and I'm a bit hurt by that characterization btw). In my opinion there is nothing wrong with continuing to portray Bert and Ernie simply as friends. In fact, to have them get married feeds into this idea that people (male-male, male-female or whatever) can't have deep, close friendships or be roommates without it becoming sexual. Gimme a break!

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary @ Parenthood


I don't think I was making a characterization. I think I was accuratelty depicting the "One Million Moms" objecting to having "these subjects forced into their homes".

With regards to Bert and Ernie, I don't have a vested interest either way, although I do think that if Bert and Ernie are not going to be portrayed as a gay couple, then another gay couple needs to be introduced in order to create balance and continue Sesame Street's committment to diversity. They do have heterosexual couples on the show.

While I don't really care if Ernie and Bert are friends or are a couple, I don't think that making them (or anyone other character) gay involves "making it sexual" anymore than it does when they portray heterosexual couples, weddings or marriages. It is about love and family, not about sex.

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

As much as I appreciate your posts about mothering, your posts about social media in general are so interesting and I've been talking about your posts and ideas in the blogging course I teach at the University of Toronto. So I wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. And also to say that I know what you mean about the mothering conversation and getting lost in the shuffle. I was thinking something similar about the proliferation of online mothering communities-- so many different agendas at work, sites that are so similar, and often more about ad revenue than fostering real community. It's as though instead of participating in a conversation, everybody wants to profit from starting their own.

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKerry Clare

Kerry Clare, I may have to steal this line: "so many different agendas at work, sites that are so similar, and often more about ad revenue than fostering real community." That really sums up how I felt earlier today when visiting a website whose content I've always loved, but which is, in my opinion, losing its credibility and betraying its mission in trying to up viewership.

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

Having worked in the field, I feel I have a pretty good understanding of the non-profit world. It's unfortunate that there are so many causes out there (wouldn't it be nice if we didn't NEED all of these organizations?), and I always applaud people for trying to make a difference. The problem is that most small, grassroots org's are getting lost in the shuffle. The big, shiny, pretty causes/organizations get all the dough, but also have extremely high overhead. I wish we could bring things back to the local level, and try to focus more on the problems/issues we face here in our own country.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Maybe I overreacted; I understood your sentence to mean that anyone who would protest the gay marriage of Bert and Ernie must be doing so because they didn't want the subject "forced into their home".

I'm perfectly happy to talk about same-sex couples with my daughter - it would be pretty difficult to avoid it completely even if I wanted to. Besides, she's not about to watch anything I haven't prescreened, so if Sesame Street did start airing topics I am not ready to discuss, she wouldn't see them. So that's really not my objection.

I just find it disheartening that we apparently live in a society where if two women hold hands it must mean that they are girlfriends, and that Bert and Ernie can't just be friends without a whisper campaign about whether they are secretly gay or not. I think it's important for small boys (and girls), to have role models of male-male relationships that are "just" friendships without this idea that if you are very close to another male there must be some kind of sexual tension. To say that it's just about love and family rather than sex is not at all accurate in my opinion, because in that case why should Sesame Street spell out to preschoolers that Ernie and Bert are actually lovers rather than friends? Who cares? If the point is that all relationships are acceptable (a debate I'm not interested in having), then why "must" a platonic male-male relationship that has existed for decades be morphed into something different?

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary @ Parenthood

Coming on the heels of the Million Man March, the Million Mom March definitely was an intentional effort to portray *women*, especially moms, as a advocates for political and social change. (I lived in DC and attended the march, although I wasn't a mom then.) But it feels like apples and oranges to compare the Million Mom March to current campaigns organized around social media. Only 11 years ago, it feels like - and was, I think - a different era.

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKris


As I said before, I don't have a vested interest in Ernie and Bert getting married. However, there are lots of instances on the show where they do show a "mommy and daddy" and there are married couples on the show (they showed Maria and Luis's wedding on Sesame Street way back when). I just think as they develop their future programming, they need to be conscious of diversity and consider the fact that not all families include a heterosexual, legally married woman and man. Sesame Street does have a single mom (Gina) and I think they should show other forms of families as well. It doesn't have to be Ernie and Bert, but it should be somewhere within the overall programming that they present.

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

i recently found your bit of space here and am in awe at the information you've provided (i am also a social worker so your agenda is right up my alley!). but i, too, am a bit confused at where to begin with promoting change... i blog about natural parenting and intentional living, yes. but you've renewed my motivation to do more. where do i begin?! thank you!!!

October 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjaime turner

Hello all, Please list our annual MMM on Mothers day, May 13 at 2pm. We have had this march every year for 13 years. We walk on the bike path with positive signs foe one mile to the owens Rose garden where we have cookies. A bagpiper leads us every year. Our event starts at 2pm in Eugene, Oregon at EWEB plaza. This year our theme is 'NO GUNS IN SCHOOLS'


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