Ann Reeves Jarvis, Julia Ward Howe, Juliet Calhoun Blakely, Mary Towles Sasseen, Frank Hering, Anna Maria Jarvis. These women (and man!) all played pivotal roles in establishing Mother’s Day as we know it today. The second Sunday in May has been observed as Mother’s Day in the United States since 1914, following several years of effort by the younger Jarvis to set aside a day to honor all mothers as she had her own mother after her death. However, celebrations for mothers and mother figures date back to ancient times and an unrelated holiday, Mothering Sunday, was long celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent in the Christian tradition.
Although Jarvis originally enlisted the assistance of department stores, the floral industry and other businesses to promote the idea of a day of honor, it didn’t take long for commercialism to consume the new holiday. Despite her best efforts to “return Mother’s day to its roots”, the machine that is American consumerism has over the years inflated the idea of a simple day of honor and acknowledgement to one of giving grandiose gifts to show our love for the mothers in our lives. According to Forbes magazine, Mother’s Day spending will near $32 billion dollars this year.
Despite my pseudo enlightened viewpoint of the avarice and needless spending of the American consumer, I do love to give a gift! Receiving them isn’t too bad either – this year, Abby and Sarah gave me a thought filled gift of things they knew I would enjoy. I gave my own mom a few plants and herbs, which she will doubtlessly do a better job of keeping alive than I will of the ones I got for myself.
I am so very fortunate to have an amazing mother, to have wonderful women in my past and present who have had mothering roles in my life, and to also be a mother to two lovely girls. But for others, Mother’s Day is a source of grief, of bittersweet memories, or of pain. For those who have lost their mother, no matter how recently or how long ago. For those who have lost a child. For those who have been made to feel they are worth less as a woman or a human being for choosing not to have children. For those who desperately wanted children but were unable to to conceive or bear them. For those who had a mother who was not capable or willing to be the nurturing parent they needed. Or for those in marginalized communities who have been rejected by the one person society tells them should love them unconditionally and they should be honoring this day. For all of those, I pray for a quiet day of peace and permission to “tune out” the myriad of noise that surrounds holidays such as these.
So to the mothers of babies who think the days of diapers and feeding will never end. To the mothers of school age children who struggle with the routines of homework and bedtimes. To the mothers of teenagers having daily battles about every topic imaginable. To the mothers about to have their babies graduate into the next phase of life. To the mothers whose nests were once empty but who have had those chicks come back. To the mothers of adult children who know that this job of worrying about your babies never ends. To those who mother children who aren’t biologically their own. To the mothers of furbabies who sometimes give us just as much grief as the human babies. To all of these, I wish the happiest of Mother’s Days.
-Karri Temple Brackett
May 8, 2022
Information gathered from the following sources:
I found this image at Free Vintage Illustrations