Anna Jarvis is credited with celebrating the first Mother’s Day (as far as we know it now) in 1908 in honor of her mother. Ms. Jarvis quit her job and campaigned tirelessly for the holiday’s recognition. President Woodrow Wilson established Mother’s Day as a national holiday in 1914. Ms. Jarvis died with the comforting knowledge that Mother’s Day would always remain a pure celebration of mothers dedicated to promoting peace.
Ha ha- just kidding. Ms. Jarvis sued to stop a New York Mother’s Day event in 1923 and when her case was thrown out, waged a public protest and was arrested for disturbing the peace. She was unhappy with the commercialization of the holiday, an occasion intended for sentiment and not profit. Doesn’t sound much different that today, does it?
Personally, the random “I love you”, hand drawn picture or the elusive heartfelt conversation with a tween means more to me throughout the year than one day of homage.
Mother’s Day can be a complicated holiday. I unfortunately fall into the category of mothers that have lost a child, so the day (like many, many other occasions) has a bitter-sweetness to it. I love my girls completely, but wish my son were here too. I have friends celebrating their first Mother’s Day since their mom died. I know women who have extremely dysfunctional relationships with their mothers. More than a few friends do not have children due to infertility or life circumstances. There is sweetness is the day, but for some also pain.
And what of the women who influence our children but are not mothers? Some of my most precious childhood/youth memories are of spending time with a crazy fun aunt who, at the time, did not have children. Rachel Goode wrote this beautiful tribute to women who aren’t moms. Maybe we can find a way to celebrate all the women with a positive influence in our children’s lives, moms or not.