Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reflections on Mother's Day

Mothers Day. It holds a special place in our hearts, but has also been extremely commercialized. I found myself pondering this after I spent some of the day running to the bathroom in tears. Why? Maybe I will get to that later. But like all other things that get me thinking, I had to do a little research and reflection. How did mother's day come about? And why do we celebrate it. Well, mothers should be celebrated, and not just one day a year. The reverence has somehow been lost. There are so many wonderful, caring and exemplary mothers out there. (And also some pretty lousy ones, but that's a whole other story.)

Although mothers day, and the honoring of mother's can be traced back in time to ancient festivals of the Greeks and Romans, in America the idea for mothers day was first approached by Julia Ward Howe during the Civil War.  Ms.Ward was a pacifist, and her Mother's Day Proclamation was a way for her to call women to step up and speak out against the horrors of war. She thought of it as a way for women to shape their communities at a  political level. By showing a solidarity of peace for the sons they had lost.

But it was the persistence of Ann Jarvis and her daughter Anna Jarvis that put the day on the calender. In 1907 Anna Jarvis broached the subject at a memorial for her mother. By 1914 her persistence had payed off, with the help of a wealthy Philadelphia merchant, and President Woodrow Wilson had made it a national holiday. Picking the second Sunday in May.  But by the 1920's Ms. Jarvis was unhappy with the commercialization the holiday had taken on. It was now a vehicle to sell cards and candy. (Sound familiar!) In fact she spent the rest of her life, and her inheritance, fighting what she saw as a abuse of the holiday. She became a stanch opponent of it! (After all her hard work.) In the end she said she wished she had never created the day because it had gotten so out of control.

In the Catholic Church the holiday is strongly associated with the reverence of the Virgin Mary. In our church the children had a procession out of church after Mass today and crowned the statue of the Blessed Virgin with a crown of flowers and sang the Ava Maria. It was capped off with a blessing of all mothers. I loved how serious the kids were. Some of the girls even wore their First Communion dresses again.

A lot of other countries have also adopted the concept of Mother's Day, celebrating it at the beginning of spring. Some traditions dating back before the American celebration and others following the American tradition. I was interested to discover that some Islamic scholars have published fatwas against dedicating a single day to honor mothers, which detracts from honoring them year round as ordered by the Quran. Could they be on to something, should we not honor Mothers year round?

I tend to side with Ms. Jarvis a little. I hate the commercialization. For personal reasons, but aren't all reasons somewhat personal? I said I didn't care that my husband didn't get anything for me. And really that's true. But what I do care about it that I didn't get a thank you. A thanks for giving me my children, for taking care of us, for all you do. He didn't even say Happy Mother's Day. It's more his attitude that bothers me. I always say it's not the gifts, a note scribbled on a post it would suffice. It's the being acknowledged.

My sons made me awesome cards and gifts at school. And I was really surprised that C's fifth grade teacher took the time to do something. Usually by fifth grade the teachers tend to get away from that. And they were so proud of them. I love being a mom. I love being their mom. I love taking care of them, holding them and the sleepless nights. I love everything aboutt them. (Yes, even the fighting and the crying!) I guess my personal journey and destiny is to be content with being a mom. Because really I am. I don't need a card or a gift to prove that. I just need someone to take the time every once and a blue moon and say thank you. And I don't want to have to remind him. Because I know when Father's day comes along I will be making him breakfast, letting him sleep, and coming up with all kinds of special treats. That's just how I am.  

So I have had my personal tirade. And it could have been worse, I toned it down. Think of your mothers year round, say thank you, and treasure every happy memory, and learn form the not so happy ones. Even moms make mistakes. I love being a mom, and I love my mom, as much as I complain about her. I don't need flowers to remind me of that. But they would be nice!

1 comment:

  1. Alright - I need the details... Sounds like the younger two were sweet angles tough :) Happy Mother's Day - a little belated.

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