I always thought Mother's Day was a made up Hallmark holiday. It bothered me that we needed a card company to tell people they should appreciate their mother. But I learned something new this year while listening to the radio on the way to work. The Public Radio station I was listening to was doing a fundraiser where you could purchase flowers for mom through the station. In their spiel trying to get you to purchase said flowers, they started talking about how mother's day was invented during the civil war as a way to calm the mothers who had sons fighting. I was intrigued.
And I discovered that Mother's day is not about celebrating being a mother, or thanking our mothers at all. It was a feminist cry for action to end war, sexism and abuse. I had no idea:
A Mother’s Day Proclamation
Julia Ward Howe, 1870
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
It was not until 1914 that the official holiday of Mother's Day was proclaimed to be held on the second Sunday in May yearly. Between 1914 and 20014 it has become a 20-billion-dollar a year industry in the United States. I am quite sure this is not what the founding mothers had in mind.
This mother's day especially we should be heeding the original cry of Mother's Day. As soldiers come home battered and bruised, physically and emotionally, under appreciated and under served as they step foot back on American soil, we should stand together. While the world searches for the girls in Nigeria,, girls who did not ask to be part of this war on western education, and their mother's cry for their return, mothers should rally behind #BringBackOurGirls and get those girls home safe. While there are children who go to bed hungry in a country of plenty - we as mother's should do something motherly on this day each year, take a stand.
Instead, mother's day is about gifts. I don't know about anyone else's house, but in our house most of my gifts are handmade. Which is the way I like it. The first thing I got this year was a beautiful, warm sunny day (which after the never ending winter was a gift indeed), then I got to sleep late. I got an anklet made out of those elastic things by the seven-year-old and a table for the backyard handmade by my husband out of reclaimed pallet wood so it is the perfect height for my backyard chair, the 20 year-old surprised me with beautiful orange roses. I got to see the little one play an exceptional soccer game and got to have lunch with my mom and my boys. Overall it was a good day. But much like Valentine's Day, I have a hard time with people telling me they love and appreciate me, just because the calendar tells them to do so. I like the idea of Mother's Day being more about rallying around issues of kindness and fairness and peace, universal issues for Mother Earth and humanity.
Then there is always the reminder on Mother's Day that there are children who may not want to honor their mothers, really because they don't deserve to be honored. What does the overload of joy being spouted on Facebook do for these poor children? There are women who for whatever reason don't have children, how do we honor their contributions to humanity? How do women who really want children and can't have them deal with a day like today? Or people who no longer have their mother to hug or have brunch with deal with aisles of Hallmark cards every time they walk into a store?
I didn't mean for this blog to be a downer on Mother's Day. I would like to see things go this way .... honor and thank your mom on a random day of the year when they aren't expecting it, and make your card. Then on Mother's Day, let's celebrate Mother Earth and our place on this planet. We can spread the word of humanity and peace, love and respect, for everyone. Just a thought.