“My mom smiled at me. Her smile kind of hugged me.”
— “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio
As I sit down to start this Another View piece on a Thursday when I’m not in the office, my 13-month-old son and I have already read five books, enjoyed breakfast and a snack, did a Target run, played with blocks, toys and a push cart and listened to the “Moana” soundtrack twice. I’ll throw in there a poopy diaper, too.
And it’s only 10:38 a.m. But this is a good morning — no mild temper tantrums … yet. (And I thought they didn’t start until 2 years old. My bad.)
Motherhood is something I had about three months to prepare for. When my husband and I were matched with Benjamin’s birth mother the end of December 2016, her due date was April 13, 2017, and he was born March 21, 2017. Since then, the experience and responsibility of motherhood, I believe, has made me a better wife, daughter, friend and person — all because of a tiny human.
That tiny human is no longer a tiny newborn, but instead a walking, babbling, funny and sweet toddler, who now happens to have every single toy spread out across the entire living room floor.
If it wasn’t for this beautiful soul, I wouldn’t know the dimension of this kind of love. I also wouldn’t know how much more the celebration of Mother’s Day would mean.
According to history.com, “Celebration of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as Mothering Sunday. Over time, the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and ’40s.”
In the 19th century, Ann Reeves Jarvis, of West Virginia, helped found Mothers’ Day Work Clubs, which aimed to teach women child rearing. Then, in 1868, Reeves Jarvis organized Mothers’ Friendship Day, “at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation,” history.com says.
Other supporters for the national recognition of mothers included Juliet Calhoun Blakely, “a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Mich., in the 1870s,” the site also says.
“The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Ann Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis,” history.com continues.
In an effort to make Mother’s Day a national holiday, Jarvis wrote numerous letters to editors of newspapers and politicians voicing the inclusion of having an official Mother’s Day holiday on the calendar. In 1912, Mother’s Day International Association was created by Jarvis.
In 1914, “President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day,” history.com also says.
Ironically, by 1920, Jarvis became outraged by how commercialized the holiday had become.
“By the time of her death in 1948, Jarvis had disowned the holiday altogether and even actively lobbied the government to see it removed from the American calendar,” history.com says.
This year, Mother’s Day is May 13. Although I see nothing wrong with the commercialization of Mother’s Day — flowers, cards, chocolates — I hope those honoring their mothers will take heed the founding reasons behind the holiday, too, and remember the sacrifices mothers have made in the challenging but rewarding responsibility and honor of raising children.
Whether you have a reservation made for breakfast, lunch or dinner, an afternoon planned at a local attraction or just a get-together at home, I hope it is a pleasant and loving day.
Happy Mother’s Day to all. Now, I have to go clean up that living room!