The food is put away, and the last guests are gone. Another Mother’s Day done. My mother had a great Mother’s Day. A simple woman, she doesn’t ask for much. She wants to see our faces. She likes cards (with money in them) and flowers. The table is filled with vases of flowers, and the cards are tucked under her pillow for later reading.
Mother’s Day is celebrated the second Sunday in May to honor the women who are mothers. It is the 4th highest grossing holiday. An article posted on CNBC Business News Financial website estimated spending for Mother’s Day in 2010 at $14.88 billion. We don’t mess around when it comes to our Mamas.
Mother’s Day also serves as a reminder to women like me who are not mothers that we don’t quite measure up because we are not members of the Mothers’ Club. We still live under the notion that every woman should be a mother. Yes, there are honorary awards for the “other” mothers in our lives, but the top awards go to Mothers. Even “bad” mothers get a plug on Mother’s Day.
It’s not to say that mothers don’t deserve recognition; they most definitely do. Parenting is a difficult job, and not for the faint of heart. Every woman that can be a mother should be a mother we are told. But membership should require more than a functioning uterus. And we should recognize that many of us love celebrating mothers, the holiday is not a joyous one for everyone.
While many people love Mother’s Day, there are those who loath it. My neighbor was sitting out on her porch, and I wished her a Happy Mother’s Day. She asked me if I had another joke. At first I didn’t get it, then it dawned on me. None of her children or grandchildren had even bothered to visit her for the day. My sister and another neighbor took her plates so she’d have something to eat.
For every Happy Mother’s Day uttered with good intention, there are countless women struggling with the holiday for any number of reasons: some are fighting infertility, some have mothers who have passed away, some are the mothers of children who have passed away, and some are the children of mothers who were the carriers for their children being here and nothing more. And some children, like my neighbor’s, don’t honor their parents.
What’s especially ironic about the Mother’s Day hoopla is the history behind it. The founder of the holiday as we know it in the United States was not a mother, and rallied against the commercialization of the original intent of Mother’s Day. In the 1850s Ann Reeves Jarvis set up Mother’s Day Work Clubs to improve sanitary conditions, reduce infant mortality and later help wounded soldiers al civil war. She later created a Mother’s Friendship Day.
After Anne Reeves Jarvis passed away, her daughter Anna Jarvis organized the first formal Mother’s Day in 1908 to honor her mother. It was a small event celebrated in churches in her hometown. Jarvis wrote to clergy men, politicians and educators encouraging them to recognize the day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared the first official Mother’s Day. Its popularity grew, and retailers seized the moment by selling greeting cards and flowers to honor mothers.
Jarvis hated what Mother’s Day had become, and spent the rest of her life fighting against the holiday. She never married nor had children. So, it’s funny because those of us outside the club can take solace in the fact, that the founder of Mother’s Day was an outsider, too.
What are your thoughts on mothers and/or Mother’s Day? Please feel free to share in the comment section.