Sunday was a much hyped and over marketed day in this country that—like Christmas—has lost a lot of its meaning in the rush to spend money on gifts and candy. Mother’s day is set aside to honor those women who have raised children, and the honoring is supposed to be done by those children. It is an opportunity for all of us to thank the women who brought us into the world and/or helped mold us into the people we are as well as supporting us throughout our lives.
The celebration started in 1914 when Woodrow Wilson bowed to the constant petition of Anna Jarvis, who had been lobbying for the holiday to honor mothers, and set aside the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Jarvis insisted on Mother’s being singular possessive so the remembrance would be specific and individual for families. Despite her best efforts to the contrary, the holiday quickly became one of the more successful commercial days of the year. Because of the crass commercialization, Jarvis would actually be an outspoken critic of the day she created.
Typically referred to as a “Hallmark Holiday” today, Mother’s day is often lumped in with Valentine’s day as nothing more than a marketing day to sell greeting cards, candy and jewelry, accounting for almost 8 percent of annual sales for jewelry. People spend more on dining out as well, with Mother’s day being the most popular day of the year to eat out. It is estimated that Americans will spend more than $68 million on cards alone. There is plenty of money in motherhood.
What has gotten lost amid the flow of glittery jewelry, prefabricated popup, sound enabled, bright greeting cards and flash enabled animated e-cards is the actual heartfelt sentiment of a child expressing to his or her mother genuine gratitude for the support, caring and love that only a mother can give a child. And it is just this expression that matters. Many people express their thanks to mothers everywhere, and while the sentiment nice, the true meaning of the holiday comes from the mother-child relationship. A woman could receive hundred of well wishes and Mother’s day greetings from friends and coworkers, but if she doesn’t hear it from her kids then has she been honored for her efforts?
Some husbands will recognize the holiday to thank their wives for their children and while this is a good and smart thing to do, it is not really a wife’s day, so it is not the husband’s duty to honor his children’s mother on mother’s day (unless the kids are too young to do it themselves). This is Mother’s day. Mother’s is a singular possessive, not a collective. We do not need to honor all mothers on Mother’s day. We do need to remember our own mothers and recognize the sacrifices they have made as they raised us. We also need to honor step-mothers who give of themselves to children they did not bear, yet help support through the love of family. Motherhood is an underappreciated role.
My mother had to put up with my growing pains and my pride and my refusal to listen to any advice she offered when I faced life’s more difficult lessons. She has endured the most difficult years imaginable lately with my dad’s condition and my sister’s death and still takes time to worry about me and my problems as well as those of my brother and sister and the grandkids. She still makes time for her kids even while working her full time job and caring for dad. I know I haven’t thanked her enough.
While the marketing machine would spend millions on slick advertising and enticing retail specials to encourage all of us to spend as much money as we can doting on moms the world over, we need to step back and remember that the day is about connecting with our own mothers and letting them know that we appreciate their love, support and patience as we go through our lives. I hope everyone reached out to their mother with a personal contact like a phone call, a visit or a letter (not a prefab card) to let them know they are loved.