On Mother’s Day


Did you know that approximately 200 million telephone calls are made across North America on Mother’s Day? And that of all the flowers bought for holidays, almost one third are purchased for Mother’s Day? And that the most common flower for Mother’s Day is the carnation?

The first Mother’s Day celebration in North America took place in 1908. A woman named Anna Jarvis honoured her mother, Ann Jarvis, with a memorial. Ann Jarvis had started a committee in 1868 to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day.” Her motivation had been to re-unite families torn apart by the Civil War. She died in 1905 and never lived to see what would become of her initiative, but her daughter, Anna, took up the cause. In 1912, Anna trademarked both “Mother’s Day” and “the second Sunday in May.” In 1914, “Mother’s Day” became a recognized holiday in the United States and was soon adopted by many countries around the world, including Canada. By the 1920’s, however, the day had become so commercialized that Anna Jarvis refused to further participate in its celebration. The day had missed its purpose and meaning for her.

And I think that the same question can be asked in 2018. In the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, our television and FB feeds and newspapers are filled to overflowing with a plethora of suggestions for gifts that a mother simply cannot live without—a dishwasher, a trip to Hawaii, a renovated bathroom, flowers galore and yummy milk chocolates. It has become a one-day spending spree for mothers, much like Christmas just a few weeks ago.

That’s one of the problems I have with Mother’s Day. The other problem I have is the unrealistic expectations that are placed on women as to what a mother should be and how she should act. On Mother’s Day, she is always presented as this super woman who keeps an impeccable house, packs nutritious lunches for her children and fits in 10K marathons on the weekends. And did you notice what Princess Kate looked like when she emerged from the hospital, seven(!) hours after giving birth to her third child. She looked like she had been at the spa all day; dressed in high heels, no less. Yikes! What mother could ever live up to that?

And then there is the matter of women who are not mothers, either by choice or fate. And what about children who are given up for adoption by their mothers? Or what about mothers who are bi-polar? Or mothers who abandon their children? Or mothers who beat their children? Human relationships are messy, beautiful and painful. So it is important for us to recognize that Mother’s Day is a painful day for many and even more so when a “paragon of virtue” mother is presented to the world.

Let’s get real about the whole thing. Let’s give grateful thanks for healthy families, whatever that configuration of family might be. Let us pray for families, less than perfect families, to find avenues of hope and reconciliation. And if reconciliation is not possible, to pray that forgiveness can come. And if forgiveness cannot come, let us pray for peace and a relinquishment so that those who have been impacted by dysfunction in a family may be healed.

Blessings, Linda