Mother’s Day has always been a bit of challenging, rocky terrain for me.  Each year as I approach the precipice, I wonder anew, what will be waiting for me on the other side.  It might be because in the past I would look to my family to provide evidence, as to how good, no wait,  how great of a mother I am.  I didn’t grow up having the best relationship with my own mother and I have often felt angry and hurt about the times she wasn’t there when I needed her.  As a mother, I made every attempt to do just the opposite.  Admittedly, the hovering and protecting my child from every possible, invisible doom might have been overdoing it a bit.   But I’ve also come to realize that none of us are perfect.  Still when Mother’s Day rolls around, it once again reminds me of all my possible mess ups and how vulnerable I feel, when I envision them being entered into some esoteric algorithm of measuring up as a mother.  

Then something happened, that was kind of like a good exorcism. (A good exorcism is one without all the green goo that has to be cleaned up afterwards.) I was reading about the history and the origin of Mother’s Day, and remembered reading Julia Ward Howe's "Mother's Day Proclamation" (1870).  (She promoted a Mothers’ Peace Day beginning in 1872).  I was like an archaeologist digging deeper  into the pages and there unveiled itself this new realization.  Mother's Day was more about coming together as a community, helping one another, and building peace and good will.  WOW! That is very different than the message we are putting out there today.   All the money spent on dining out, expensive presents and store bought cards, not the hand written personal notes that were once the tradition.   It seems that the way we have come to measure the thing we love about mothers and the way we've come to measure that love, just doesn’t feel right.  So I’ve personally decided that I will attempt to get back to the roots of what Mother’s Day was originally all about.  I will ask my family not to spend lots of money.  I will invite them to plan something where we can all just be together enjoying each others company.  I will direct my  thoughts towards forgiveness and letting go, when it comes to my own mother, and I will contribute to an organization that supports other mothers less fortunate then I am.   Most importantly, remembering that worth comes not from evaluating and measuring our selves or others, but from our courage to connect with one another. 

Here are some of the cool facts I’ve learned about Mother’s day:

The concept of Mother’s Day actually started in the 1800s with an Appalachian women’s event organizer named Ann Reeves Jarvis. Concerned about mothers, sanitary conditions and especially contaminated milk, Jarvis created something called “Mother’s Day Work Clubs“ to teach other moms how to care for their children and keep them healthy.  After the Civil War, Ann continued to work with women and created something called “Mother’s Friendship Day Picnics.” The goal of those picnics was to unite those who were still identifying as Union or Confederate loyalists across West Virginia. She wanted everyone to come together and get along.

Julia Ward Howe and other antiwar activists, including Jarvis, saw Mother's Day as a way to promote global unity after the horrors of the American Civil War and Europe’s Franco-Prussian War.  Howe called for women to gather once a year in parlors, churches, or social halls, to listen to sermons, present essays, sing hymns or pray if they wished—all in the name of promoting peace,  

-  Taken from an article in the Times by Katharine Antolini, an historian at West Virginia Wesleyan College and  author of Memorializing Motherhood

If you choose to give your mother roses or the more traditional flower, carnation, this year for Mother’s Day, here is something good to know:  Most cut flowers come from Ecuador.   With ideal conditions year round for growing flowers, it is one of the largest exporter of flowers to the U.S.   The cut-flower industry in Ecuador is providing thousands of jobs to local residents and helps in keeping families together.  

Whichever way you choose to celebrate or not celebrate Mother's Day this year, remember the message and the women behind it.   


Popular posts from this blog