Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Kind Art of Mothering “Arise, then, women of this day!”


Although, we all have one, the relationship between each mother and child is as unique, as individual and as identifiable as a fingerprint.

While it is true that circumstances may determine the strength of that relationship, a bond will be formed nonetheless.

Although the length of the relationship may only be pregnancy, or birth, or months, or years, or for the lifetime of the mother or the perhaps too short life of a child, a mother connection is like no other.


There are times when we all want to, or more importantly need to, be cared for, nurtured, fussed over, and held ever so tightly.


Maternal feelings are not limited by gender or age.   Most creatures instinctively feel protective of the young or needy.

Mother’s Day

The meaning of this day and how I feel about it changes for me from year to year.  What never changes though, are my thoughts each time the month of  May rolls around.  My automatic associations are garden centers, the color pink, and always Mother’s day. 

Even though I have acknowledged the day for as long as I can remember, childhood associations bring about the most of my fond memories.   For they are memories of the grandest of all Mothers, my Grandma.

As I got older, and obviously wiser, (ahem) I became more cynical about the day.

I became part of the crowd whose mantra was, “It’s just a made up Hallmark Card holiday.”
I agreed with those who complained that it was too commercial and that it was just another way for Kohls, or Macy’s or Jared’s to guilt us into buying.

Of course, you know, you can Wiki, Yahoo, or Google to find out the origins of Mother’s day.  And Wiki, Yahoo and Google I did.

I found the history of this day to be quite interesting.

In seventeenth century England, a day was set aside to allow the working class the day off to travel to their home towns to be with their families.   Mothers were given gifts of cakes and flowers as their distant children came home to visit.
It was very much the same as what we do now.  But, what I liked about that long ago time was the name that was given to the day.  It was called Mothering Day.

In 1870, in Northern America, a wise woman named Julia Ward Howe conceived an idea of setting aside a day to celebrate peace and motherhood.  She proclaimed this day as Mother’s Day. 

In response to her anguish over the death and carnage as a result of the Civil War, with emotional words, she wrote the following:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
Say firmly: 
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of 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 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 bosom of the 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 of ten forsaken the plow 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 then 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 some place deemed most convenient
And at 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.

Sadly this timeless piece continues to be relevant in a place without peace.  

I was moved by the passion and compassion of Julia Ward Howe.  She gave me a new perspective and once again changed my view on this day we set aside to show appreciation for Mother.
Although, we are one hundred and forty-three years apart, Julia and I share a strong conviction that our world needs more Mothering.

The history of the origins of Mother’s day continued with ebbs and flows throughout the years.
There were controversies surrounding it regarding the commercialism that one of the proponents of the holiday, Anna M. Jarvis, strongly objected to.  See a comprehensive recount here.

Today, on the day of the eve of this second Sunday in May, I have chosen to focus my attention on  Mothering. 

I was fortunate to have been Mothered by Priscilla for 62 years.  I Mothered her the last few months of her life.  
For many reasons, this year I feel particularly reflective about my mother.  I was able to see through the haze of “The Good Mother” expectations and with much more clarity, identify with her feelings of Mothering.   I understand.

Tomorrow will be an emotional day for me.


  1. Perhaps that's why my mother doesn't like Mother's Day all that much. She misses her mother who died way too young.

  2. I don't pay much attention to Mother's Day. I don't need flowers or cake or candy. I know my kids love me because of their behavior every day of the year, not just one day in may.