There are many celebrations of motherhood around the world, going back even thousands of years. In the United States, “Mother’s Day” was first celebrated in 1908 at St. Andrews Methodist church in West Virginia, by Anna Jarvis to honor her own mother, Anna R. Jarvis, who addressed public health issues, and cared for injured soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. It became a national holiday in 1914, but was recognized and celebrated in all the U.S. states in 1911. And, in 1912 Anna Jarvis, trademarked the phrase “Mother’s Day” and “Second Sunday in May,” saying it should always be written in the singular possessive, and that everyone should write personal notes to their own mother, perhaps with the simple gift of a white carnation.
Mother’s Day was a well-established holiday when I was a child, and most families had their own traditions. Mama wore a white rose pinned to her dress on Mother’s Day, the color indicating that her mother had passed on. My sister and I always wore pink roses to church on Mother’s Day, sometimes red as we got older. Sometimes Mama had a white orchid corsage—a symbol of love, beauty and many children. Some of my friends made their mama breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day morning. (My mother said she did not want to have crumbs in the bed.) Children would usually make cards and gifts at school, but a purchased card was standard, often with a gift bought by Dad with the kids. Going out to eat happened sometimes, but many places were closed on Sundays in the 60’s. Big family dinners, with grandparents, sometimes with aunts, uncles and cousins, were far more common then and very fun. As I got older, shopping for gifts became an important part of preparing for Mother’s Day. Mom kept all those dime-store jewelry purchases, even though she only wore them once or twice.
Once I had a Mother-In-Law, there were two moms to celebrate. It all worked out and we had many fun times together. Love grows.
Then I became a mother, and the world changed. Suddenly, I was taking care of this tiny helpless person who already had a huge personality, and before she could say it, wanted to do it all herself! How could I keep her safe while letting her try?I learned a lot of tricks to make getting necessary things done while having fun. We laughed a lot and cried some. They were two beautiful girls. They grew up. They’re still two happy, beautiful adults.
I have heard it said that your job as a parent is to work yourself out of a job, to give your kids roots so they can stand on their own, and wings so they can fly on their own. I’m happy that our girls are friends with each other and call often.
This Mother’s Day will be the third year without my mother, and many more than that without my mother-in-law. I have finally stopped thinking “Oh, I need to call Mom, and tell her….” These days, it’s more like “Our moms would have loved this!”, “Your grandparents would be so proud today!” or “Mema would approve!” My husband brought home white roses, and tomorrow I will wear a silver rose pin that belonged to my mother. The traditions change, yet, somehow they are much the same.
However you choose to celebrate it, Happy Mother’s Day, to you and your family!