When I was a little girl, I often wondered why days were set aside for mothers and fathers as special days. “Why isn’t there a children’s day?” I would ask my parents. My mother would respond with something her mother used to tell her: “Every day is children’s day.” (Puh-lease, I’d be thinking…) But if you think about it, it’s true. Children are naturally narcissistic, but not in a pejorative sense; they simply believe that the world revolves around them until they develop enough maturity to realize that indeed, it does not. And as a mother, I see how so much of my time and energy is spent raising my child, there’s no doubt in my mind that, yes, every day is children’s day so moms and dads deserve a special day set aside to honor the often unrewarded responsibility of parenting.
How did Mother’s Day come about in this country anyway? A woman named Julia Ward Howes, in 1870, after witnessing the horrors of our country’s civil war and scores of men’s death in battle, proclaimed a “Mother’s Day” as a public objection to sons killing sons (of mothers, obviously). She wrote a proclamation calling for a day to celebrate international peace and motherhood.
After a decade of celebrations spawned by Howes, Anna Reeves Jarvis initiated more Mother’s Day observances. Her daughter Anne M. Jarvis, continued similar celebrations to honor mothers. Jarvis, the younger, felt that children often failed to appreciate their mothers enough while the mothers were still alive and therefore passionately pursued her cause. She encouraged her church to celebrate mothers on the second Sunday of May, which was the anniversary of her own mother’s death. The idea was to strengthen the bonds, love and respect between family members.
What began as a religious service with white carnations, favorite flower of Jarvis the senior, evolved into a holiday whose commercialization Jarvis greatly opposed. It was not until 1914 when the day was officially penned into national observance by Woodrow Wilson.
Mother’s Day in the United States has become quite commercialized over the last century, but as a mom I confess that, while I don’t need an official holiday to accept appreciation or even a gift, I welcome with open arms the moment (or maybe the whole day) of feeling special for this most important job.
So, while all other days of the year are children’s days, and while there are plenty of ups and downs on those days, all you moms out there please remember what a significant role you have in shaping the generations that follow ours. Know that there are plenty of kids, relatives, neighbors and teachers who appreciate your efforts, even if the gratitude is not always spoken. Happy Mother’s Day!