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Honoring Mom
An editorial / By Dale McFeatters


May 07, 2005

The U.S. Census Bureau is enormously proud of all the facts and figures it collects and looks for opportunities to show them off. Such an occasion is Mother's Day.

The bureau's numbers present a fascinating snapshot of American motherhood at the outset of the 21st century, in some ways greatly changed, in some ways changed not at all since Anna Jarvis began her campaign for a designated Mother's Day in 1908.

For a start, the United States has 82.5 million mothers.

Their families are smaller than their mothers' mothers', an average of two children. Says the Census, "Only about 10 percent of women today end their childbearing years with four or more children. That compares with 36 percent in 1976."

And mothers are having their first child later, at just over 25 years old. It is, says the Census, a record high, having risen nearly four years since 1970.

There are 4 million new mothers each year. About 425,000 of them teenagers between 15 and 19, but more than 100,000 are 40 or older. About 40 percent of all births are the mother's first; 32 percent the second.

The odds of having twins are 1 in 32. The odds of having triplets or more are a little more remote, 1 in 540.

The most popular month to have a baby is August, the second-most is July, which may be why they call that period between Thanksgiving and New Year's the happy holidays. The most popular day of the week to have a baby is Tuesday. At least that gives the new mother the weekend before she has to go to work. Just kidding! But not by much.

The Census says 55 percent of mothers with infant children are in the work force. That's down from a record 59 percent in 1998, and the first significant decline since 1976, when the Census first began keeping these figures. In that year it was 31 percent; that's how much we've changed in almost 30 years.

There's one statistics about mothers that the Census doesn't keep because it's so obvious: We've all had one, and that does make the day special in its own way.

Happy Mother's Day!


Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,


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