As we celebrate Mother's Day, there is an underlying realization growing in America that motherhood is not a great gig and fewer people are choosing it.

There are good reasons not to choose to be a mother in America. America is rated as the worst modern, developed nation to live in as a woman, according to the World's Gender Equality Index (2022) as we are ranked 32nd. We are ranked at the bottom of developed nations to be a woman in a country that touts equality as one of its key values. This is especially true for mothers.

American motherhood is in peril. American birth rates have been rapidly dropping, which has ramifications for all of our futures because we need younger people in our country to care for us when we are older and to contribute to our economy (e.g., contribute to social programs like social security, for one thing).

Even if you do not want to have children, you need other people to have children to keep our society running. Many Millennials and Gen Z are deciding to not have children, with a significant percentage preferring pets. For those who want to have children, it is challenging because childcare costs are incredibly high, often half a parent's salary, which in our society may force mothers out of the workforce.

We are the only developed nation that offers no paid maternity or parental leave. That doesn't even factor in the Motherhood Penalty in which mothers are perceived as less loyal and hardworking just by becoming a mother, which is not grounded in evidence. But don't forget that we also make mothers who stay home feel inadequate too. Americans are equitable in treating moms poorly and making moms feel bad no matter what they do — working or not working. According to Pew Research, 70% of Americans think it is harder to be a mother today than 20 or 30 years ago.

And yet, moms are devalued everywhere. Comedian Nick Kroll's Netflix special points out how we all often treat our own mothers poorly, and the CEO of Clearlink, James Clarke, recently stated that working moms who are primary childcare providers are not being fair to either their companies or their kids.

Perhaps there are more nefarious profit-seeking strategies at play under the surface. Why should we have a makeover of motherhood when the system is working as designed to profit, patronize and possibly terrorize? American corporations have become accustomed to short-term thinking in meeting shareholder quarterly expectations, which often only make changes when forced through lawsuits. What does it communicate about our American values when Elon Musk cuts Twitter's parental leave from 20 weeks to two? Will other corporations follow suit?

We have all heard the research that quantifies women's lack of participation in the C-suite, or why women have such high postpartum depression or why women suffer from such loneliness and why the birth rate is falling. Why exactly are we continuing to invest money in "wellness programs" when the conclusion is almost always the same thing? The average American mother will tell you: It's hard, we aren't valued, we aren't supported and we need real change, not more superficial self-care tips.

Instead, organizations often pray away their sins of abandoning families at the altars of Corporate Social Responsibility through charitable organizations with donations to absolve them of systematic oppression that purposely walls out women, especially women of color. These are "good-ole-boy" systems that were designed for men and only men, function best with men and will continue to do so unless some change is enacted. Yet we seem to be going backward. For example, studies show working from home options are beneficial for many mothers and families, yet the recent return to the office mandate by CEOs (all male, by the way) ignores data and blatantly devalues mothers and their contributions.

The irony is that the evidence shows that these corporations would be more profitable if they diversified and actually added more mothers in their leadership and on their boards. If they would incorporate women and people of color, they would be more successful. Diversity of thought and practice produces better outcomes. Study after study confirms this, and yet many corporations refuse to change to their financial detriment and the detriment of their profits, their people and America's families.

On a societal level, we could change our future if we actually respected and invested in the foundation of our society and the foundation of families: mothers. Mothers are the foundation and deserve respect for the almost always unpaid and often unacknowledged work they do. The burden of care, the mental load, the kin work and the struggle is one that many people either don't "get" or that others profit from.

For example, in the case of male-run VC firm Some Spider Studios, "the biggest digital media company for parents, bringing you Scary Mommy, Fatherly and The Dad" sold for $150 million to Bustle Digital Group, which is a male-run venture firm that traffics in content for sizable profit but offers almost zero solutions to the precise struggle faced by so many families, especially moms. Leaders of industry, often men, don't experience the burnout, primal scream, loneliness and crippling nature of American Motherhood in the same way women in the thick of parenting experience. It's no wonder why 89% of mothers feel unsupported by society.

In America, we often value the almighty dollar. What if we actually paid mothers for their work? The calculation of labor for a stay-at-home mom at in 2021 found, after surveying 19,000 moms in 2021, that stay-at-home mothers work approximately 106 hours a week and that moms working outside of the home work their outside jobs and then another 54 hours a week at home. All of this ends up with an annual market value of $184,820.

What if we could pay on the front end? Pay to have mothers who are focused on their child/children? The United States spends approximately 80 billion dollars on prisons annually. What if some of that money could go to mothers? This is just one of many examples.

Other countries provide significant paid parental leave for children. For example, in Norway, the parental benefit is 49 weeks paid full salary. Parents in Sweden are provided 480 days (96 weeks) of paid parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Remember, in the United States, we receive zero weeks of national paid maternity or parental leave.

A makeover may offer a glimpse into what could be. Our makeover need is for current mothers and future mothers alike. Society must befriend our future and implement a new system where whole families feel supported, children thrive, society works well and we all feel seen and supported. A good start would be to pay mothers to not have to bifurcate their time to try and make it all work, an impossible job. Provide enough funding to be able to provide help, time and resources to parents, not in the margins of high stress in the a.m. and waning willpower in the p.m.

Imagine what the future could look like if we diverted funding from crisis management into crisis prevention, specifically for mothers who have the greatest influence on their children.

America needs to stop saying it values mothers if it really doesn't. If America really cares about mothers, it needs to step up and act like it and start changing policies, beginning with creating maternal/parental leave.

But that's not enough. If we truly paid mothers, changed the status quo and actually designed the system to cater to the foundation of families, our mothers, then we could abolish more than half of social services and charitable organizations (like Korédé House, a nonprofit that the co-author of this article Ronke Faleti founded).

The more trauma the mom carries due to a lack of support, the more trauma our future will carry. Being a good mother is like planting trees today that will yield bountiful harvests and shade for all in the future. Starting this Mother's Day, let's befriend and set up mothers for success and the beauty that is nurturing life. And remember to appreciate your mom and all the hundred-hour work weeks she put into raising you this Mother's Day.

Ronke Faleti spent 18 years in corporate America and left to raise her children and create better outcomes for families by creating a nonprofit that focuses on mothers, the foundation of all society. Korédé House is a third space community that's not home ("first" space) or work ("second" space), and it centers on mothers wishing to recharge, build friendships, work uninterrupted and access help with family care struggles like child-watch, meal prep and laundry in a beautifully designed home.

Leilani Carver-Madalon, Ph.D. is the director of Graduate and Undergraduate Communication and an associate professor of Strategic Communication and Leadership at Maryville University. Leilani focuses on the intersection of marketing communication and leadership.

Representative image Credit: Pixabay / Quebble_nl