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Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

Give Mom an extra hug and appreciate her for doing the toughest job on Earth

Remember when the Peace Corps adopted the slogan “The toughest job you’ll ever love”? No offense, Peace Corps, but that adage is more appropriate for motherhood — a job that is ever-changing and frequently exasperating. Moms don’t get days off, nor do they receive handsome salaries or generous pensions. Instead, their rewards come in the form of sticky kisses, necklaces made of elbow macaroni, and the satisfaction of seeing their children grow up to be happy, healthy adults. That’s probably not adequate compensation — so give Mom an extra hug on Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, just in case, and follow our guide to giving back.

Celebrations go back to ancient times when Greeks and Romans held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. However, the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday stands as the modern precursor. This European tradition fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Many believed the faithful would return on this day to their “mother church”— the main church near their home — for a special service. The Mothering Sunday tradition shifted over time into a more secular holiday where children would give their mothers flowers and other gifts. This custom would blend into the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.

American author and poet Julia Ward Howe, who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,”became the editor of Woman’s Journal, a widely-read suffragist magazine, in 1872. During that time, she wrote an “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world,” which would become known as the Mother’s Day Proclamation. The document asked women to fight for world peace following both the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. Howe then launched a failed attempted to start a “Mother’s Day” celebration on June 2. Two decades later Howe suggested a Mother’s Day celebration every July 4. This also failed to take hold, but set the stage for a future attempt.

Anna Jarvis successfully initiated Mother’s Day after her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died in 1905. Jarvis noted that Mother’s Day should contain a “singular possessive,” (hence the apostrophe) so each family might honor its own mother — as opposed to all mothers. Jarvis, who neither married nor had children, organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration in May 1908. A Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker lent his financial support to the cause. That same month thousands of people attended a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s stores.

Jarvis soon lobbied to make Mother’s Day a national holiday — urging prominent Americans to join the effort. By 1912 many states, towns, and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual event. Jarvis also started the Mother’s Day International Association. President Wilson would soon establish the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in 1914. Hallmark began selling Mother’s Day cards in the early 1920s.

Jarvis’ love affair with the holiday she worked so hard to start did not last, and she eventually grew to resent its commercial appeal. As florists and greeting card companies began to cash in, she soured on the idea of a national day — urging people to stop buying flowers, cards and candies. Jarvis spent most of her personal wealth hiring attorneys to file lawsuits against groups using the term “Mother’s Day.” She even tried to persuade the federal government to remove it from the calendar.

Ever notice how your mom always says she doesn’t want expensive presents? Believe her. She just wants to spend some time with you (yes, it’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true). So, take a hike or plan a picnic. Help her in the garden or hit the town. Even if it’s no more creative than a big bowl of popcorn and a “GOT” marathon, Mom will enjoy the QT more than any tangible present.

2.Treat her
Take her out. Find an amazing restaurant and treat Mom to a mimosa or three. Planning on taking her out later? The sky’s the limit for lunch and dinner options. Plan ahead. Make a reservation. Remember, you’re an adult now.

3.Listen up
Listening is an act of love. So, with that in mind, take a break from talking about your own problems and listen to her talk about her life, her dreams, or her favorite memories. If you have siblings, get the family together and tell stories!

A. Moms!
Like so many constants in our lives, we sometimes take our parents for granted. After all, we’ve known them all our lives. Yes, we know that Mother’s Day can feel somewhat commercialized and obligatory, but if you can think outside the checkbook and do something truly special for (or better yet, with) your mother, then why not do it?

B. She can do it all
For the first couple of years, your mom fed you, protected you, and read “Goodnight Moon” to you until she knew it by heart. After that came the lessons in how to share, to try new foods, and to not wallop your brother over the head with a metal Tonka truck. She encouraged your curiosity, indulged your interests, and helped form your sense of humor. In other words, she made you, well, you.

C. An inclusive celebration
Maybe the woman who gave birth to you isn’t with you now —but it’s a good bet that there are other strong, influential women in your life. Mother figures come in many shapes, so don’t take Mother’s Day too literally. Say thank you to any or all of the women you know who work hard and love others, since that’s essentially what mothering is all about.

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