HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

Coreeta Scott King with the King children at the piano

                            Corretta Scott King with the King children at the piano

 

By Kai EL’ Zabar

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother.  It also acknowledges motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated throughout the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. In America it’s been 102 years since Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day a national celebration!

The U.S. celebration of Mother’s Day began in the early 20th century and is not related to the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration (originally a commemoration of Mother Church, not motherhood).  It actually was the gift of one woman who wanted to honor her mother’s unique contribution as a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues.

Betty Shabazz with her daughters

                                        Betty Shabazz with her daughters

Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers, because she believed that they were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. However her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died.

Even though it was a great idea in 1908, Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would have to proclaim also a “Mother-in-law’s Day”. However, Anna Jarvis never stopped pushing, so by 1911 it was finally passed.

Ruby Dee with husband Ossie Davis and their children at a civil rights march.

Ruby Dee with husband Ossie Davis and their children at a civil rights march.

In 1912 Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association.  She specifically noted that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his 1914 presidential proclamation, by the U.S. Congress in relevant bills, and by various U.S. presidents in their proclamations concerning Mother’s Day.

Whoopi Goldberg with her mother, her daughter and grandchildren

         Whoopi Goldberg with her mother, her daughter and grandchildren

In 1912 Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association.  She specifically noted that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his 1914 presidential proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers, by the U.S. Congress in relevant bills, and by various U.S. presidents in their proclamations concerning Mother’s Day.

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards.

Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. 

Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards.  Jarvis protested at a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925. By this time, carnations had become associated with Mother’s Day, and the selling of carnations by the American War Mothers to raise money angered Jarvis, who was arrested for disturbing the peace.

To Jarvis’ point that Mother’s Day may have become too commercialized and its true meaning lost in the commercialization of it. Honoring the mother by presenting her with handwritten letters of expression or cooking a meal as she has so often done for you, or other various gestures to demonstrate appreciation is long forgotten. Perhaps we should think more about the original intent and purpose of Mother’s Day.

Michelle Obama with daughters

                                Michelle Obama with daughters Malia and Sasha 

Mother’s are many things to everybody. Their work is never done. And in comparison to other jobs it’s a thankless job. Mother’s Day hardly compensates for the countless hours, days and years that mothers spend giving, sacrificing and working for their children.

In comparison to jobs that require the many responsibilities that mothers manage as CEO of The Home—the family institution: runs the household, oversees budget, makes household purchases, pays bills, teaches, tutors, mentors, event planning, engages with outside community, counsels, delivers janitorial and maid services, provides chauffeur services, provides nursing and nurturing, seamstress, cook, dietitian, and the list goes on yet Mothers receive no salary. They work everyday without holidays, or time off.

Malcolm X said, “When you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” True, mothers are thought to be the first teachers. They are charged with raising the next generation, which is an invaluable contribution to society yet they are not appreciated by demonstration.

Mothers Day is meant to shower her with the acknowledgement, accolades and expression of our appreciation as Jarvis expressed, however as time has evolved we express our love, respect and appreciation in a spectrum of ways that expand upon Jarvis’ limited perception, yet we must continue to embrace her intention to honor our mother, motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

HAPPY MOTHER’s DAY!!!

 

Below are quotes about mothers from some distinguished celebrities

 

“If I have done anything in life worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the disposition from my mother.” ~Booker T. Washington, Educator, philosopher 

 

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” ~ Maya Angelou, best selling author, poet, novelist, film director/producer, actress, teacher.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis with children

Jackie Kennedy Onassis with children

If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much. ~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

 

 A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary. ~ Dorothy Canfield Fisher, educational reformer, social activist, and best-selling American author

 

By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacation less class. ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston author, journalist and anthropologist

Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground. ~ Zora Neale Hurston, folklorist and writer 

 

“My mother was the one constant in my life. When I think about my mom raising me alone when she was 20, and working and paying the bills, and, you know, trying to pursue your own dreams, I think is a feat that is unmatched.” ~ Barack Obama, U.S. 44th President

 

“My mother is my root, my foundation. She planted the seed that I base my life on, and that is the belief that the ability to achieve starts in your mind.” ~ Michael Jordan, master athlete

Oprah Winfrey with her girls in South Africa.

Oprah Winfrey with her girls in South Africa.

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” ~ Oprah Winfrey, television personality, actress, network owner

 

“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” ~ Stevie Wonder, master musician, composer, entrepreneur 

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