With this Sunday being our country’s official observance of Mother’s Day, I wish a happy day to all of you grandmothers, mothers, mothers-to-be, stepmothers or those who have been “like a mother” to someone in need of mothering.
In today’s world, we celebrate Mother’s Day with emails, flowers, greeting cards, brunches, dinners, long-distance phone calls and/or Skyping, in-person visits and of course, candy for those important women in our lives.
I am lucky to still have my 98-year-old mother in my life. She is a true blessing to me and to the rest of our family; we think every day should be Mother’s Day. As she has requested, there will be no gifts from us this year. She says she doesn’t need any more perfume, bath beads, candles, lap robes, note cards or the such. I agree with her. Her apartment is full of the items listed above, and I know she could never use them all. Neither could I, especially when it comes to the array of the unused stationery, notes and greeting cards that she has acquired over the years. Since her organization skills are still quite excellent, I wasn’t surprised to find a drawer of various greeting cards separated by holidays and special occasions. The only thing she could possibly use at this juncture would be a couple dozen rolls of stamps.
She enjoys corresponding with loved ones.
Instead of gifts, she says that our presence is her presents. So, keeping that in mind, we will spend both Saturday and Sunday with mom and various family members. We decided as a group that one day is just not enough to shower her with our love and admiration.
Several years ago, I was doing a bit of research for one of my upcoming columns about Mother’s Day, and I found quite a bit of details at the website mothersdaycentral.com. There I learned many things about the history of the day we celebrate every year on the second Sunday of May. Here is what I discovered…
It appears that Americans can thank Julia Ward Howe, the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” for starting the ball rolling toward a day dedicated to mothers. As the story goes, Ms. Howe was so dreadfully upset by the deaths of so many young men during the Civil War that she asked our country’s mothers to unite and publicly oppose the senselessness of sons killing other mother’s sons– an act which left our country’s mothers inconsolable.
Doing her best to stop the bloodshed, Ms. Howe decried the need for an international Mother’s Day with the following message:
Arise then … women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God–
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
In 1914, six years after Howe’s death, President Woodrow Wilson signed the holiday into national observance, declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
For more details on the history of Mother’s Day, go to your local library, visit mothersdaycentral.com or check out a host of other informational websites.