Mother's Day Toxicity

culture self-sovereignty May 16, 2024

There is a lot of unhealthy messaging around Mother’s Day. I see many variations of “she’s the most selfless person I know” (i.e, she puts everyone’s needs above hers and is depleted beyond belief).


I minimize my exposure to that rhetoric by curating what I choose to watch and read. And I try not to call out anyone or shame them simply for having different beliefs than mine. So the fact that I am calling someone out over Mother’s Day toxicity is noteworthy. 

I only recently started following Jennie Hoglund, a homeopathic practitioner, after attending a webinar she hosted. I followed her for her alternative approach to wellness and her expertise in homeopathy, particularly for women. Imagine my surprise when this regressive and repressive prescription for Mother’s Day joy landed in my Instagram feed. 

The post was quickly deleted on Monday after I commented and tagged one of her business partners. Her removal of the post also erased all traces of her problematic biases towards women, most concerningly the women she treats and coaches.


I’m pretty sure you all already see the glaring issues with this post, but let’s break it down together. The more we shine light on this restrictive paradigm for acceptable roles for both genders, the more free we will all be.

This piece focuses on how patriarchy shows up here, but remember that it never happens in a vacuum. Where there is patriarchy, there are overlapping systems of heteronormativity, capitalism and white dominance. 




The false dichotomy of “raging feminist” or “happy wife” excludes the many other possibilities. One can be a feminist who is not currently raging. Also, one can be a feminist expressing rage (not a personality trait) that is needed to change an unjust world; one can, of course, be a married feminist (raging or not); one can be an unhappy wife in an abusive marriage or an unhappy wife who is unhappy for a myriad of reasons.


It is extremely problematic for a health care provide and life coach to be setting this up as a paradigm for women’s happiness or lack thereof. 




Another false dichotomy, this one based upon the patriarchal assumption that the more babies a woman has, the better.  This one presents us with “toxic birth control & conventional medicine” or “lots of babies & homeopathy.” Again, imagine the permutations that are actually possible when you remove the stifling assumption that all women will be happier with more babies—or with any babies, for that matter. A woman’s choice of medical styles is completely unrelated to her desire for a full quiver (evangelicals’ term for lots of babies).


Notice that when women start rejecting the mandate for procreation, the tactics escalate. This is why we are now seeing abortion bans, proposals to monitor pregnant women and extreme Christian nationalists questioning women’s rights to birth control and even the right to vote. When we stop buying into their vision, they attempt to force it through laws and restrictions.






Where to start on this one? Yep, more false dichotomy, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This one is actually unconscionable for the health care provider. Underlying this cringy set of options is the premise that men who freely express their emotions should be shamed by name-calling using a medical condition as part of the insult. 


It insinuates that a man’s only value is in his ability to provide and, conversely, that a woman is not capable or “made for” the role of provider. Also, even the term “provider" is bias-laden, as both parties in any healthy relationship “provide” many things. Labeling the one who brings in the most money “the provider” is myopic. 





Let’s start by looking at the images on this one. Cue a miserable looking young woman inexplicably brought to tears as she works at a beautiful sunlit desk, presumably for an evil corporation that is sucking her soul. Next to her is another young woman gazing lovingly at a plant which, apparently, fills her life with purpose and joy. I am not buying it.


I love that one woman on the now-deleted post commented that her job was actually very fulfilling but that the pressure of tending to her garden was pushing her stress over the top, so she was cutting back on the gardening pressure. 


Of course women, like all other humans, are fulfilled in different ways. My husband is a fabulous gardener. I forget to take care of what I plants and it dies. Not because I’m a bad person or a bad woman, but because my passions pull me in other directions. You know, like dissecting toxic ideologies and exposing them for the damaging forces they are. 




These two are fleshed out with lots of tantalizing, fear-mongering details like the bitter woman getting divorced and living with her three kids in a one-bedroom apartment. How to avoid such a fate? Appreciate your man, live a grateful life and take responsibility for your own life (but not really because you want a masculine man to fix a lot of it for you). And, for God’s sake, don’t blame the “patriarchy” for your self-created problems!




Jennie ends this Mother’s Day guide to happiness by assuring moms that they deserve happiness and fulfillment, but then dropping the bit about it starting with their own choices and attitudes, by which she has already laid out means being a happy wife; having lots of babies; having a masculine provider who doesn’t express his feelings; and finding purpose and joy in some space outside of soul-sucking corporations, preferably something in the domestic sphere.


Her messaging is clear and toxic, "If you are not happy and fulfilled and have chosen to veer from the pre-ordained path to feminine contentment, it is your fault. You had the audacity to choose yourself."


This is not a new tactic of the patriarchy. Like Lilith when she fled the garden rather than submit and Eve when she bit into the apple rather than remain unenlightened, women—according to Jennie and those supporting a certain prescriptive path for female fulfillment—are to blame for their own misery (and for the fall of humankind). If they’d only obeyed the men’s rules. Stayed small. Not been so curious. Been quieter. And less ambitious.


To find actual human fulfillment, turn Jennie's prescription on its head.

Rage against the many injustices in the world;

Follow your own knowing about whether you want to be a parent or not;

Find a partner that is emotionally intelligent and unencumbered by stifling gendered roles;

Do work that lights you up and do not limit the scope of your contributions to the world;

And trust your inner wisdom to lead you toward enoughness rather than scarcity. 


Need a community to walk with on this journey? Our Sovereign Sisterhood offers weekly support groups, monthly rest rituals and additional live online gathering featuring authors, thinkers, ceremonies and other ways to enliven your ability to trust the deep inner wisdom that is already within you.


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