Motherhood: a job that has been honored for centuries
Mom always knows the right thing to say and when to say it. She has a magical kiss that makes every ounce of pain dissolve into mere memory. She says that the trumpet playing is beautiful when it sounds like a hoarse elephant. Mom is the best.
On May 8, Orange County citizens will buy out the flower shop, swamp the mail bags with cards and notes, and tie up the phone lines reminding “mommy dearest” just how special she is. The second Sunday of May, in fact, is one of the busiest holidays of the year. On this day, we express our love and appreciation for mother with various gifts and salutations.
Motherhood is an honorable and powerful position- one that is not to be taken lightly. It is truly said that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
Many people often fail to appreciate the influential position that mothers have in the lives of their children- for the good and for the bad. A good mother is priceless. By her words, whether they be words of discipline or words of encouragement, she can forge a good man or a good woman.
By her guidance, she can drive them far from foolishness and irresponsibility. She gains nothing by taking on this elaborate task. It is an unconditional love.
The honoring of this special role is nothing new. Spring festivals in honor of motherhood have been held for centuries.
The Greeks honored Rhea, their mother of many deities.
The Romans honored Cybele, the great mother of gods.
Catholics honored Mary, the mother of Christ. This celebration was held on the fourth Sunday of Lent every year.
England expanded the Christian celebration of Mary to all mothers. This day was called “mothering day,” and all the working children, in service for other households, were allowed to return home for on that day with a “mothering cake.” The practice was largely disregarded, though, when English pilgrims came to the American colonies.
The American celebration of Mother’s Day, however, began as a women’s political movement. Anna Jarvis, a young Appalachian housewife started a “Mother’s Friendship Day” in order to bring awareness about undesirable health conditions in her community. The day was a success and became tradition. Jarvis told her daughter that she had a dream that one day there would be a national holiday simply for honoring mothers.
Julia Ward Howe, a social activist, augmented Jarvis’ efforts in 1870 when she organized an anti-war movement in which she gave an “impassioned” appeal “to womanhood” to rise against war. She gave a “Mother’s Day Peace Proclamation” in which she spoke on behalf of women, saying, “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
It was Howe who penned the famous words of the patriotic hymn “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Howe’s belief that women feel pain and loss more intensely than men did aided her in the mighty impact that she made through her use of Jarvis’ idea.
When Anna Jarvis died in 1905, her daughter, also Anna Jarvis, continued to advocate her mother’s dream that someday there would be a national day to honor mothers. Anna lobbied long and hard and, eventually, her lobbying brought her to the President himself.
In 1914, her efforts paid off when Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
At first, people observed Mother’s Day by attending church services and writing letters to their mothers. Quickly, it became a commercial holiday with cards and flowers and gifts. Anna Jarvis became enraged. She believed that the day’s sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit.
Despite her disappointment, Jarvis and her mother have left behind a legacy that transcends time and location. Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, though not all in May. Mother’s Day gives everyone a chance to stop and consider just how much their mothers contributed to their lives. If you are blessed enough to have your mother with you still, don’t forget to bring her a white carnation and tell her that you love her