Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is rather odd. Like most holidays here in the United States, Mother's Day started out with one intention, and then commercialization took over and the citizens of this great country took the holiday and ran amok.

According to an Appalachian woman named Ann Jarvis started something called "Mother's Work Days" in 1858. Ms. Jarvis organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors. After the civil war a social activist by the name of Julia Ward Howe came up with an idea inspired by both Ms. Jarvis and a British holiday held three weeks before Easter called, "Mothering Day". Ms. Howe called for women to unite against war and in 1870 she wrote the "Mother's Day Proclamation" as a call for peace and disarmament.

But it was Ann Jarvis's daughter - who was also named Ann Jarvis - that really helped to establish our modern Mother's Day traditions. When the elder Ms. Jarvis died in 1905 her daughter was devastated and she missed her mother so. On May 10, 1908 the younger Ann gave carnations to all the mothers who attended the Sunday service at the Methodist Episcopal Church in West Virginia - the church where her mother had taught Sunday school. She simply wanted to honor her mother's memory and hoped that others would take a day to thank their mothers as well. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national mother's day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war. And the holiday exploded from there!

Ms. Ann Jarvis became a huge opponent to what Mother's Day became, and she spent the last years of her life saddened by the commercialization of the holiday. How very disappointing.

So, why did I start this post with the words, "Mother's Day is rather odd"? Let me state right here, I really like getting cards, candy, and flowers, and I love going out to lunch to the restaurant of my choice. However, the fact is (in my mind anyway) us moms are just doing what comes naturally - what we were created to be and do. It's true that not all moms are good moms! We hear news stories all the time about women who have hurt, maimed, abandoned, sold, or even killed their own children. This is a sad reality. But most of us are just doing what comes naturally when it comes to our mothering responsibilities. We do what we were created and put on this Earth to do. It’s not always an easy job, but being a mom is a great job.

There are some moms who REALLY deserve to be honored on this Mother’s Day. I pay homage today to the single dads who are also "Mom"; to the grandmas who have stepped up to the mothering plate again long after their own kids grew up; to the friends and neighbors who stand in the mommy-gap; to the adoptive mothers whose arms are finally full, and to the brave moms who give their unplanned children life....and then give them up for a better life. It is you all who really deserve to be honored today.

To my own children I say, thank you for honoring me today. Thank you for loving me when I'm grumpy, for trusting me even though I'm sometimes wrong, and for forgiving me when I act the fool. Thank you for every home-made card, every extra special coupon book made especially for me, every "I Love You", every painted hand print, every dirty finger print, and every crayon masterpiece you created so lovingly. Thank you for every challenge you have brought to my life as you have helped me to grow into the woman I am today. Feel free to ease up on those challenges anytime :)
Happy Mother's Day.

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