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Mother's Day

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a blog for me is coming up with an interesting idea to write about. Most of the time that’s the hardest part. I asked a couple of the other board members if they had suggestions, and someone said “how about Mother’s Day?”. Since that’s a really timely topic, I thought that was a great idea. Until I thought about it in a little detail and then the great idea became a very complicated idea, indeed.

Because frankly, Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for a lot of people: children/adults who have lost a beloved mother – or perhaps even worse – have no relationship, or a terrible one, with a living mother; mothers who have lost children… I won’t go on, I’m sure you get it. Now add living through a global pandemic and there’s another complication: most of us probably won’t be able to visit our mom, if we want to. Phone calls and Skype calls are a wonderful stand-in when we can’t visit, but just not the same.

This post became a dilemma.

As I was at a loss on how to move forward, I did what I always do when I’m trying to be creative, and watched a few YouTube videos, checked my email, and started mindlessly scrolling through Facebook (as one does). Oh, look!! Murder hornets!! A freak May snowstorm!!!! The future of this post looked bleak, indeed.

Then I stumbled on an essay that looked intriguing (and relevant): “Why Mother’s Day Founder Anna Jarvis Fought to Have the Holiday Abolished.” Hmmm…interesting – perhaps there was hope for me, after all. Here’s the link:

Anna Jarvis’ mother was a nurse, who during the Civil War, cared for the wounded on both sides of the conflict. She also tried to orchestrate a friendship between Union and Confederate moms by forming a Mother’s Friendship Day. Anna was despondent at the death of her mother, and she found an outlet to memorialize her mother by working to promote a day that would honor all mothers. Mother’s Day quickly caught on because of Anna Jarvis’s zealous letter-writing and promotional campaigns across the country and the world. And that’s how we got Mother’s Day.

Ultimately, though, Anna became distraught over the commercialism that followed. She had an especially disdainful view of florists and greeting card manufacturers, writing they were “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers, and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest, and truest movements and celebrations.” I wish we used more language like that today.

Also, one time she went to a restaurant on Mother’s Day, ordered the special Mother’s Day salad, and when it arrived at her table, dumped it on the floor, left money to pay for it, and then stormed out of the restaurant. I’m *really* curious as to what was so offensive about the salad?

It seems that there have always been mixed feelings about Mother’s Day (check out this quote from Senator Henry Moore Teller of Colorado who, in 1909 scorned the idea of Mother’s Day as "puerile," "absolutely absurd," and "trifling,” and also said "Every day with me is a mother's day." (I wonder what his wife thought about that…) And there are greeting cards available today that say things like “I know this day is difficult for you…” – oh those pirate racketeering kidnapping termites!

Sunday, May 10 can be what you want and need it to be. It can be a celebration of a person you love; a day of quiet reflection; a day to just “get through”; or maybe just a day like any other Sunday. Don’t put pressure on yourself, allow yourself to feel what you feel – whether it be love, grief, sadness, or anger, or apathy or ordinariness. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself grace.

And perhaps celebrate we made it through another week! Stay safe, wash your hands, and read a good book!

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