Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day & The Human Way To Honor They Who Gave Birth To Us All

            Different cultures around the world have selected different days of the year in which to specifically celebrate Mother's Day. Whatever back round one comes from,religion,spoken language,sexual orientation or even method of conception every human being on the planet Earth has a mother-somehow,somewhere. For those untold millions worldwide who do not know who their mothers are of course,all my best wishes. I know who my mother is. My father too. Always have. My mother has grown very confident in how she has behaved in regard to motherhood. 

           No child comes with a written guidebook as the old cliche goes.  And motherhood is defined by a series of challenges,checks and balances that sometimes defy the human psyche  Especially me being an only child I feel both my parents had to keep from indulging me too  much-because of the idea bandied about during that generation that only children always developed a selfish streak. Yet one of her most remarkable qualities is her genuine assertion that helping her out with the little everyday things represent the greatest mothers day gift of all. And its genuine,not a phony statement in this case. 
            This particular mothers day however, I did notice something that may have always been there in such a huge degree, but I never noticed it. This year though it knocked me over the head how I couldn't go into any store-small and large without seeing the Mother's Day holiday unashamedly pushed into my face: rather impolitely to my way of thinking. There has been everything from small card kiosks in drug stores to massive displays elsewhere advertising enormous amounts of impulse items. The general message to people is that Mother's Day is mainly about high level consumerism. A day to put oneself out buying expensive flowers and/or dinners out that will simply not last.

             I decided to buy my bother two boxes of flower bulbs as a gift and plant them. They are beautiful perennials and will always be there for years to come. After all,so many people buy perishable cut flowers instead of even the potted ones now readily available this time of year. Yet all the high level commercialism of the holiday made me feel mildly guilty about doing this. Parenthood is something you can't buy, and something you can't sell.  My consolation on this matter is that,when it comes to Mothers Day I am not the only person in history who's experienced these feelings.
            Above this article,the lady who is pictured was named Anna Jarvis-born in Webster,West Virginia in 1864. She founded the modern celebration of Motherhood we honor in America today in 1908-in honor of her own mother of course. In 1872 Julia Ward Howe  had called for women to join in support of disarmament and asked for 2 June 1872, to be established as a "Mother's Day for Peace". Her 1870 "Appeal to womanhood throughout the world" is sometimes referred to as Mother's Day Proclamation. But Howe's day was not for honoring mothers but for organizing pacifist mothers against war. And it didn't stick. 

             Decades later however Jarvis's campaign for a general and non political version of the holiday became nationally recognized. She stopped promoting the holiday herself when President Woodrow Wilson made it an officially recognized holiday. During her final decades, Jarvis actively opposed the over commercialization of the holiday she helped found-the first to dismiss it as a"Hallmark Holiday" and in particular opposing how the holiday was used to enforce capitalist ideals on countries such as Mexico.  By her death in 1948, she was greatly opposed to the commercialism associated with the holiday she helped create.
         I cannot help but think,when I am in stores this time of year seeing all the Mothers Day advertisements of Anne Jarvis-an everyday American living in a time of suffragettes  and voting rights for women,coining a holiday in order to honor all mothers across the nation for their efforts  And it feels like a great disservice to her vision that the side of the holiday that champions the darkest side of capitalism is representative of the modern celebration of the holiday. Mothers Day to me,however really isn't a day to ramble on about changing reflections on the American economic experience. Considering the guns,bombs and other weapons that have resulted in many mothers in New England in the last six months who lost their children in Sandy Hook and than at the Boston Marathon last month.

      And that's not to mention mothers losing children to wars in many areas of the world,I'm gradually beginning to conceive of a Mothers Day For Peace concept as promoted by Julie Ward Howe after the Civil War. As Dr. Helen Caldicott once said,if mothers all over the nation would harness the instinct they have to save the lives of their offspring, than America would perhaps begin to become a more peaceful and less violent nation. So to all people reading this celebrating with their mothers today, think about the love you and your mother have. And think about the inner,and hopefully outer,peace that comes from that. Happy Mothers Day everyone!

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