Mother’s Day by the numbers

Another Mother’s Day, another scintillating slew of facts from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The bureau notes that this Mother’s Day will honor an estimated 85.4 million moms in the United States. It also includes this short history of the holiday:

The driving force behind Mother’s Day was Anna Jarvis, who organized observances in Grafton, W.Va., and Philadelphia on May 10, 1908. As the annual celebration became popular around the country, Jarvis asked members of Congress to set aside a day to honor mothers. She finally succeeded in 1914, when Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Fertility rates have decreased steadily in the U.S. over the last century or so. Just from 2008 to 2009, the number of births per woman dropped from about 4 percent to 2 percent.

Likewise, the number of women who have children has decreased. These days, only slightly over half – or 54 percent, to be more exact – of women between the ages of 15 and 44 are mothers. Meanwhile, 82 percent of women ages 40 to 44 have given birth; the number for this age group back in 1976 was 90 percent.

Of the 37.8 million moms who live with children age 18 or younger, 94 percent live with their biological children only.  “In addition,” according to the Census Bureau, “3 percent lived with stepchildren, 2 percent with any adopted children and less than 1 percent with any foster children.”

Some more random, interesting tidbits:

More children are born in July than any other month of the year. In 2008, July saw 375,384 births.

More twins are being born than ever before, with exactly 32.6 twin births recorded for every 1,000 total births.

Fewer triplets, quadruplets and other multiple births are being counted, giving the U.S. the lowest reported number of “higher-order births” in more than a decade. Only 6,268 triplet births took place in 2008; there were also 345 quadruplets and 46 quintuplets and higher order multiples.

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Survey says moms will get pampered this Mother’s Day

The countdown to Mother’s Day 2011 has begun! We now have less than a week to go, and according to some recent reports, we moms can look forward to an extra spending – er – extra-special day.

A National Retail Federation survey completed in late April predicts that Americans are poised to spend more on Mother’s Day this year than they have in recent years. The chart included with the article shows a very short timeline, but it does have 2011 spending returning to roughly 2007-2008 levels.

And that, mamas, means spending is expected to top $16 billion. That’s a lot of flowers and greeting cards.

Then again, BizReport has an article up about how online shoppers are expected to spend 10 percent more than other retail shoppers. The article notes one-third of shoppers “intend to spend $219.40 on their moms, 10% more than last year.”

Then there’s this: “A new survey from the Mom Complex, the marketing-to-mothers division of the Martin Agency, reports that 30% of moms say they typically get honored for no more than 5 to 10 minutes on Mother’s Day. In fact, 40% feel their husband and children come first on Mother’s Day, and 12% feel they don’t even make the list.”

How’s that for a mixed message?

Personally, the best Mother’s Day gifts I’ve gotten didn’t cost a dime. My first Mother’s Day, my 7-month-old surprised me by sleeping for a full six uninterrupted hours. The next year, she gave me a near-perfect circle she had cut out of construction paper, all by herself. I carried it around with me for weeks and showed it to all my coworkers. It still fills me with pride whenever I look at it.

And last year, my daughter sang this song, to the tune of “O Christmas Tree”: On Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day/ O how I love you mom/ On Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day/ O how I love you mom/ You give me joy and happiness/ I give you love, a hug and kiss/ On Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day/ O how I love you mom.

What’s been your favorite Mother’s Day gift, either given or received?

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Census bureau counts births to unmarried women in ‘cohabitational’ relationships for first time

Lots and lots of women who give birth are not married, but just because they are not married does not mean there isn’t a partner in the picture.

For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau counted up all those unmarried new moms in live-in relationships, and compiled those findings into a recently released report that also includes new topics such as fertility rates for women with higher education and unemployment levels of new mothers.

The report says that between June 2007 and June 2008, a total of 4 million women in the U.S. gave birth. Of these, some 1.5 million women were unmarried at the time they gave birth. And of these unmarried women, 28 percent, or about 425,000 women, have a “cohabitating partner.”

The report’s author, Jane Dye, summed up the findings: “The report shows that many unmarried new moms are not raising their child alone.”

Other interesting Census findings include a report that ” by the time women reached the 40 to 44 age range in 2008, they had averaged 1.9 births in their lifetime, down from 3.1 births in 1976 … This reflects the decline in the likelihood of women having three or more children, as well as the increase in the proportion not having any at all.”

Also according to the Census, more women with newborns are working. In 2006, 57 of mothers who recently gave birth were in the labor force. In 2008, that percentage increased to 61 percent.  Only 6 percent of mothers with newborns are unemployed.

Some bad news: One in four new mothers in the U.S. are living in poverty, and Montana is among the states with higher than average poverty rates for new moms.

And finally, women who received some form of education continuing into their 20s counted lower fertility rates at younger ages, with increasing fertility at older ages. Overall, the “peak” childbearing age in 2008 fell into the 25- to 29-year-old range. That age group counted 122 births per 1,000 women.

– MM

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Mom on the mountain

Moms in Missoula woke up to a special treat on Mother’s Day; “somebody” had added an “O” and an “M” to the “M” on Mt. Sentinel.

The Missoulian’s Arthur Mouratidis (who really has a knack with the camera) forwarded this photo he took of the grand gift to all of Missoula’s moms: 


– MM

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Mother’s Day Eve now better than Mother’s Day

It’s true – in Missoula, the night before Mother’s Day is way more fun than the actual day of Mother’s Day, thanks to the annual Mother’s Day Eve Bash.

Thanks to Mamalode publisher Elke Govertsen, who is in the midst of organizing the sixth year of the free event (actually, it’s better than free because there are a ton of sponsors who give YOU stuff),  moms have a place to party the evening away surrounded by other moms. LOTS of other moms. Last year, more than 450 moms turned out.

And then, of course, you get to sleep in the next morning, which is really what Mother’s Day is all about.

This year’s event will be at Peak Health and Wellness again, on Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. See you there!

– MM

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Here’s my advice on Mother’s Day

I see that Missoula Editor is asking folks to send the Missoulian the best piece of advice they ever got from their mother for publication on Mother’s Day this Sunday.  E-mail it, along with your name and phone number, to

With that, here’s Missoula Mom’s best piece of advice: Treat every day like it is Mother’s Day.

We mothers really don’t ask for much. Maybe a homemade breakfast or a nice dinner out. Perhaps a handmade card or an extra-big hug. Possibly some extra time spent together – or extra time apart.

In short, a little extra recognition for all the work it takes to be a good mom. Surely that’s not something we should confine to a single day once a year.

– MM

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Get ready for Women’s History Month

March will begin in one week, and March is Women’s History Month, with International Women’s Day falling on March 8.

So here, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, are some facts and figures about women and motherhood.

– There are 155.8 million females in the United States, compared to 151.8 million males.

– An estimated 82.8 million of these females are mothers.

– About 64.5 million women age 18 and older are married.

– Nearly 60 percent of females age 16 and older have a paying job. That’s some 72 million women.

– The number of stay-at-home mothers in the U.S. is about 5.3 million.


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Children’s water safety and “Josh The Baby Otter”

Today I got a press packet and tried hard not to cry as I read about Joshua Collingsworth, a Nebraska todder who drowned last year in a backyard pool. It was one of those unforseeable, but preventable, tragic things that forever changed a family in a matter of moments.

The Collingsworth family, in all their grief and heartbreak, somehow found it in themselves to turn their experience into a lesson for other families. Blake Collingsworth, Joshua’s father, wrote a children’s book called “Josh The Baby Sea Otter” that aims to fill in a message he felt was too often missing from discussions about young kids and water safety: That water can be fun, but only when an adult is present.

The book is age-appropriate and thankfully not heavy-handed in its water safety message. A copy has been distributed to every elementary school in Nebraska. I’m not aware of any similar educational effort in western Montana, but given how much we Montanans like our rivers, I expect we do have something in place.

Looking out the Missoulian’s office window right now, I can see the Clark Fork rushing by, fast and high. And I’m thinking about the fact that my daughter recently took up fishing with her dad. And about how she wants to take swimming lessons like her best friend up the street. And about how hot it was this last weekend, and how we bought a new little wading pool for the backyard.

Water’s a way of life in western Montana, and I would venture to guess that most parents here are pretty familiar with water safety. I would hope we are passing that knowledge on to our children, both explicitly and by example. But you can’t live your life filled with worry all the time, and you can’t watch your kid every second of every day.

So let’s all take a moment to make sure our kids get the message: Don’t go near any water unless mom or dad is with you.

– Tyler Christensen


Getting from here to there with only the essentials. Ha!

Having kids means having to pack around a lot of stuff. Me, I don’t carry a “purse,” I have a “bag.” The kind you throw over your shoulder so you can haul more junk. Aside from the numerous scraps of paper and pens, I have kleenex, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, an extra sweater – you know, the usual.

And a fork. What is that doing in there? And – oh, yuck. Goo on the bottom.

Are you one of those women who cleans your purse out regularly – or never? What is so essential that it absolutely must be with you wherever you go? Or are you, like me, surprised by what you didn’t know you were toting around?

And dads, I would love a peek inside your purse. Oh, sorry – I mean your “man bag.”

– Tyler Christensen

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Someone needs to take over the Growing Place

The Growing Place is a much-loved child care facility in Missoula in danger of shutting down. A group of dedicated parents is doing all they can to find someone to keep the place running. Here’s the fully story, and here’s how to help:

Anyone interested in assuming ownership of the Growing Place child development center can send an application to Growing Place (attention Nanette Melzer), 2683 Suite A Palmer St., Missoula, MT 59808. Applications must be received by 3 p.m. Thursday. For more information, contact Growing Place director Nanette Melzer at (406) 728-1243 or

Help spread the word!

– Tyler Christensen

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