There are debates surrounding relationship awareness days like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. I think any ire against Mother’s Day generally goes quiet most people acknowledge many mothers work without thanks. It seems fitting they should be celebrated. Who wants to be the cad saying, “let’s not celebrate mothers”? At the heart of the complaints, is often disgust for commercialization or personal pain associated with the thing celebrated that day.
With any holiday, we can complain of commercialization.
Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day, as we know it, in 1908 with a national campaign to put it on the calendar. It began as a well-intentioned celebration in a Methodist church, financed by and widely celebrated in Philadelphia retail stores. Florist shops helped promote the day as part of the petition for a national holiday. Is it any wonder, with these roots, that Jarvis would find the holiday usurped by the commercial process? She spent the latter years of her life fighting the commercialization of this day intended to honor all mothers everywhere, with or without flowers.
As a popular holiday, Mother’s Day is unique is how new a holiday it is, and how it was founded apart from religious observance or patriotism. That it is one of our most popular holidays, and one of the biggest for consumer spending, speaks to something deep inside us as a nation and a culture.
For whatever struggles women have in society, on a personal level, we can see our indebtedness to mothers. Even those with emotionally or physically absent mothers, or oppressively present mothers, feel the lack so much because of what it should be. If mothers did not matter so, no one would care if their mother were absent. But motherhood matters, not only biologically, but the relationship with one’s mother follows throughout the individual’s life. Healthy attachments affect later relationships. Through his mother, the child learns the world is a place where it is safe to explore. Mother acts as a home base. They are more commonly the primary caregivers. As such, they often responsible for teaching children healthy coping skills. In Mother’s relationship with Father, children witness problem solving and cooperation between two very different individuals. A mother becomes aware of the baby’s every move in utero and maintains that awareness even as the toddler seeks out mischief in the house. She is the first word learned by an infant and the last word spoken by the soldier on the battlefield.
Not everyone has this family structure. Not everyone has a mother of whom they can say they owe everything. Not every woman can be a mother. Not every woman wants to be a mother.
However, you observe the day, make it personal. Take time to reflect on the wounds and graces of motherhood’s impact in your life. Resolve to do better or to imitate, whatever the case may be. While biological motherhood can be quite limited in scope, the concept of spiritual motherhood, a motherhood that transcends biology providing us with “mother figures” in our lives, is quite remarkable. To mother is to care for, ahead of oneself, in an intuitive and judicious way.
Give praise to a mother in your life, be she your biological mother or spiritual mother or someone else’s mother. In your reflection, spend time with old photographs, videos, and memorabilia from the days of parental monitoring or personal crisis in which a mother cared for you. Consider and write down what words come to mind. What are you grateful for? What lessons were learned, what passions or hobbies acquired, what qualities admired? Thank her for them. It can be written on a post-it note or a fancy card. That you see her and recognize her in her motherhood captures the spirit of the holiday.
It is okay to have holidays to raise relationship awareness. Mothers seem to be around, wherever we go. It is quite human to need reminders. And, after all, it is our humanity we’re thanking them for.