Thinking About Mother’s Day

polar_bear_mom_and_babyToday is the day that we honor our mothers for all the stuff that they do for us—big and small. Not only have they done all of the maternal stuff that moms do, like care for us, they have done many things that we might not think about very often. First, let’s have a bit of history on how we came to celebrate Mother’s Day in the U.S.

We began celebrating Mother’s Day in 1908 because of a woman named Anna Jarvis, who never became a mother herself, but wanted to honor her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis. The elder Mrs. Jarvis was a woman from West Virginia who organized work clubs “to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination,” according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. “The same groups tended wounded Civil War soldiers of both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.” Ann Reeves Jarvis died in 1905, and in 1908, we began celebrating Mother’s Day because of the efforts of her daughter Anna Jarvis, who wanted to honor the work of her mother. Anna Jarvis later became upset by the commercialism of the holiday, the purpose of which she viewed as an intimate celebration between a mother and her children. Read more on National Geographic‘s website here.

If we think about it, what our moms really want is to spend time with us, to hear us say thank you for all that they have done for us. Sure, the flowers, candy, gifts, and lunches are great. But what they really want is that intimate moment, that we give back some of the time that they so generously give to us.

My parents divorced when I was a kid, and as a consequence, I have two moms, each of whom taught me different things, and both of whom share their time with me whenever I need them. They both have a gentle way of telling me when I’m being an idiot and shouting it from the mountaintops when I’m doing well. Every now and then I’ll be doing something, and my thoughts travel back to when they taught me something and they got that pleased and proud look that mothers get (I’m not sure that they know that we notice and how much we love seeing it). The fondest memories that I have of them are the times when we just hung out together watching movies, wandering around a store, or especially when we laughed, when one of them told me a joke that she knew that only I would love, or said something that only we thought was funny. Of all the things that mothers do, in the end, it’s the time that we spend together—those intimate moments that are just ours—that means the most.

So Happy Mother’s Day. And thanks, moms, for all of those things that moms do, making us laugh, teaching us and allow us to be our best selves, listening to us, and all of your time. There is nothing more precious than the time that we spend with you.


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