There are many exciting and glamorous professions in the world but none as marginalized, trivialized and taken for granted as that of motherhood. At its very root the label of mother is often underestimated and even associated to that of a mere caretaker. However this underestimated, and potentially unflattering, description seems to discount the true value and significance of motherhood. Mothers, these superhuman beings who immerse themselves into their prime passion which not only includes the care for their children but also transforming themselves into whatever function is required of them by their family. They can be the primary unofficial health care practitioner, nutritionist, educator, psychologist, emotional support system, protector from all that is evil and, at times, even a warden. If this sounds like the type of person that merits the label of “hero’ – well, yes definitely. Their unconditional love, selfless commitment and dedication, as well as their strong tendencies for altruistic is only matched by the behavior of their fellow mothers. These nurturers of life and cultivators of character who are often taken for granted, and even neglected, have one day per year during which they are celebrated. Every year on the second Sunday in May children all over the United States are given the opportunity to demonstrate their love and appreciation for the only person who has unconditionally stood by them in every way since conception; this day is appropriately named Mother’s Day.
Many may wonder about the origins of Mother’s Day. Are they based on religious, political, or the product of a marketing scheme concocted by a clever employee? Well, you may be surprised to learn that this holiday was the brain child of an American woman who later came to regret and oppose the very idea she forged.
Mother’s day as we know it was founded by Anna Jarvis, but inspired by a powerful parental figure in her life, her mother namely, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a pioneer in structuring childhood rearing methods. According to History.com, Ann Reeves Jarvis started “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” during the Civil War in an effort to teach women how to properly care for their children. Then in 1868 she created “Mother’s Friendship Day” to promote reconciliation efforts between Confederate and Union soldiers. This was an example of only one precursor to the inception of Mother’s Day as a national holiday. There were other women such as Julia Howe for example, who tried to create “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870 to promote world peace.
According to History.com Anna Jarvis, who ironically remained childless her entire life, was inspired after her mother’s death in 1905 to create a day that celebrated the sacrifices made by mothers. She petitioned a Philadelphia department store owner to financially back the first official Mothers Day celebration, an event that was attended by thousands of people. After the success of this event she was determined to make Mother’s Day a national holiday. Through her efforts in reaching out and engaging politicians and local newspapers to honor motherhood and creating the Mother’s Day International Association she achieved her goal. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson declared that the second Sunday in May is to be a special day called the Mother’s Day holiday. Unfortunately in spite of the fact that Anna Jarvis initially celebrated this victory for all mothers she quickly realized that the idea and sentiment behind the holiday was being exploited. As time went by Anna noticed that the holiday was gradually becoming more and more commercialized and by 1920 she denounced corporate profiteering by the flower and candy industries. Ironically by the time she died in 1948 she had spent much of her wealth in an effort to disown and remove the holiday from the calendar.
Although Anna Jarvis was unsuccessful in removing Mother’s Day from the American calendar, perhaps there is still a lesson to be learned by her efforts. Before buying what has become traditional flowers or chocolate for this holiday, perhaps this year, the children within this great nation should reflect upon Anna Jarvis and her work and devote quality time and effort to truly celebrate and honor the sacrifices their mothers have made for them.