Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for ALL the nurturing you have done and will continue to do, regardless of who you birthed, even if your efforts seem to go unrecognized on this particular day. Thank you for desperately wanting to care for and nurture someone even if it hasn’t yet happened. Yes, I see your pain. Thank you for choosing to mother and nurture even if it wasn’t your first choice. Thank you for continuing to pray for that grown child from whom you are estranged for whatever reason. Thank you for enduring a difficult childhood when your mother was unable to be and give what you needed. I see you too. And you. Thank you for doing what you needed to do to protect yourself and your young children from their abusive father. You may feel very alone right now, but I see you, still present, still taking care of all three kids on your own when they are too young to understand.
I am ranking Mother’s Day #2 as one of the Calendar year’s most emotionally charged holidays in America, second only to Christmas. The original idea, established by Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis in America during the W.W. I era, was to honor a mom’s hard work in raising children in a traditional family. Howe, a poet, social activist and writer, suggested a national holiday dedicated to honoring mothers in 1872. She suggested June 2 and championed her cause, but the woman honored for taking it to the next level was Jarvis. Although she never married or had children of her own, Jarvis was inspired by her own mother to establish Mother’s Day as a national holiday. By 1911, Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution designating the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day.
There are too many women I know who do not fit the perfect loving mother/daughter/son mold from which the original purpose was intended. Our culture and ideas of family have radically changed in the 21st Century. I suppose Anna Jarvis never thought of these less than perfect circumstances.
I myself have had some glum Mother’s Day emotions when I didn’t think I would ever have babies of my own. I totally understand desperate feelings of exclusion. But I wonder if our culture has elevated motherhood to goddess status where we expect to be worshiped from the thrones on which we have placed ourselves. Do we have an entitlement? According to Hallmark, yes. Have we got sucked into the lie that women who have given birth are more fulfilled or deserve more recognition and respect than those who have chosen not to give birth or be a mom, or have not yet become moms? New York Times Best Seller author Anne Lamott thinks so. Her essay published in Salon.com explains why she hates Mother’s Day. “It celebrates the great lie about women: that those with children are more important than those without.” She is mother to one son and never wanted him to feel obligated to spend loads of money on her, especially on items she didn’t want.
And then there is the role some churches play in hyping up Mother’s Day to the point of ridiculousness. Like asking all mothers to stand while being applauded. I appreciate the effort, but if someone could help me chase down my insolent toddler, that would be even more appreciated. Or Mother’s Day sermons that drip with too much sappy sentimentality. Do we really need a painful reminder if we’ve lost a child due to whatever tragic circumstances? I can’t speak for the universal Church, but I know of a Presbyterian Pastor who actually recommended grieving parents he knew of to stay away from the Presbyterian church on Mother’s Day.
Ideally, appreciation for hard work should be shown and recognized on an on-going basis. Not just once a year. That is my husband’s philosophy. He sees no reason to empty his wallet over flowers and candy just because it’s a commercialized, calendar holiday. Instead, he works hard for our growing family every day. He makes us dinner two to three times a week, spends lots of time with our son and does about 85 percent of the housework. (I do the other 15 percent of laundry, sweeping/washing floors, dusting, scrubbing toilets and making dinner too).
Happy Mother’s Day to the moms who do honestly work hard every day of the year to be the best parent they can be. You are not going unnoticed or unappreciated. And Happy Mother’s Day to the Village, to the extended family, the older sisters, aunts, cousins and friends and caregivers and teachers and nurses and social workers who also play instrumental roles in raising children. Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. Happy Mother’s Day to my husband’s mom. Happy Mother’s Day to my sister. Happy Mother’s Day to ALL women past and present who may be mourning over their mothers now in the grave. You will not be forgotten.