Mother’s Day celebrations have evolved a very good deal since ancient Greek and Roman times when they were first documented. From elaborate parades and banquets, to special church services, now to simple gifts and flowers, things have definitely changed. The American version of Mother’s Day took over in the 1930s and 40s, removing almost completely the original celebrations.
In the mid-19th century, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” for women needing assistance properly taking care of their children. In 1870 a woman’s suffrage supporter by the name of Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation”. She called mothers to unite for world peace. In 1873 Julia campaigned for “Mother’s Peace Day" to be celebrated every June 2. Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering worked together in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to make Mother’s Day more official and permanent with parades and proper celebrations.
Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, was determined to see the holiday added to the national calendar. Mother’s Day for her was a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. After some help from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, in May of 1908 they managed to organize the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. After the extreme success of the planned celebration, Anna started a massive letter campaign to the newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood.
By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day is a very big deal for us. We look to our mothers for most everything in our lives. They are a symbol hard to describe. They are the ones who cook our meals, who clean the house. They teach us to read and write, our shapes and colors. They keep us down to earth, to think of others. Sometimes they are strict and discipline us, yet we know it is only because they love us. They are the ones who make the house a home, who make a simple four walls something to be happy and comfortable in. They give us chores and help us with our homework. Our mothers see us at our best and at our worst, they love us anyway.
When we are born, we are vulnerable and defenseless. Our mothers feed and clothe us, they hold us while we cry and work tirelessly to make us smile. They stay awake when we are sick and make sure we are as comfortable as we can be. When we are well again, our mothers are the first to be joyful. They take care of our cuts and scrapes, elaborately tending the small wound as though it is of the greatest matter. They fix our hair and make sure our shoes are on the correct feet before we leave the house. They sit for hours reading our favorite books, teach us to love reading and coloring. They want us to be creative and expressive.
Our mothers are kind and loving. They are warm and comforting. They will gossip with us like a friend, hold us when we are upset. They are the first ones we turn to when we have a bad day, listening to our complaints and allowing us to vent. Mothers are the silent strength in our lives. They are there when we need them, letting us live our own lives otherwise. They want us to only ever be our best, to do better and try harder than others. They will support us in our silly childhood dreams, help us as we grow into an adult and chase real ones, and love us the entire time.
A mother will forever worry over her children. She will forever love you. A mother will never stop calling you her ‘baby’ or threatening you with a spoon, no matter how old you get. A mother can never finish teaching her children. For a daughter, a mother is strength and kindness. For a son, a mother is loving and devoted.
While this Mother’s Day is drastically different from how we are used to, please remember the day. Remember to call her or drive by her house and wave. Do something different and write her a handwritten letter, drop it in her mailbox. Take a picture of you or something funny and drop that with the letter, too. Send her some flowers or a box of her favorite candy, something small but meaningful. If you actually get to spend the day with her, hold her tightly and tell her you love her.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone!
-Ariel Hall, Sterlington Teller