This morning I am considering how Mother’s Day began as a day for mothers to oppose war–so, as Julia Ward Howe wrote, “Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage…Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.”–and became a tool of commerce as the florist and other industries taught us to honor our mothers by spending money on flowers, cards, candy, jewelry and more.
The oft-touted Mother’s Day slogan, “Show Mom You Love Her” is not a bad recommendation, but, shouldn’t the activity occur more than once a year? Do you have to buy a card, or flowers, or anything, in order to show love toward your Mum? Does an annual response to mass-marketing really honor the woman who gave you life?
The Hallmark Power Drain
The concerted effort to turn Mother’s Day from a day of conscientious observation–a day of protest, even–into a Hallmark holiday, where a card and a gift “That Says ‘I Love You'”, has drained away the power of the original intention. The co-opting has stripped women’s power from the holiday, sublimating that to the passive receipt of trinkets. This power, women’s power to protest, to speak loudly, to stand firmly, to say, “Arise, all women who have hearts!” is potent, and has the potential to instigate much positive change. Is it wise to let the marketeers erase this vital energy from the observation that motherhood can be and is far more powerful than the sticky-sweet notion of a Shoebox Greeting?
Show your mother that you love her–today and throughout the year. But also, bring back the original intention. Take a moment to reclaim that power today, if only to read Julia Ward Howe’s “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” which includes, “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.” Amen!