“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” ~Maya Angelou
The power of motherhood is real, and like any other force of nature, it’s effects are never the same, especially in the eye of the storm. We have all been shaped by our mothers, and the reach of that influence has long arms indeed. For some that love was tender and nurturing, for others there may be wounds and loss. However, we experienced that power our mother’s influence is profound.
Although many celebrations and festivals honoring mothers and motherhood have been celebrated by diverse cultures for thousands of years, the first modern celebration of Mother’s Day occurred in 1908. Anna Jarvis held a memorial service for her own mother in St. Andrew’s Church in Grafton, West Virginia. That church is now home to the International Mother’s Day Shrine. She began a campaign to create a national holiday in the US in 1905 after her mother’s death. Ann Reeves Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and believed mothers should work for peace.
The national holiday was rejected at first, but by 1911 every state observed the holiday. Woodrow Wilson finally signed a proclamation in 1914, declaring Mother’s Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Although Anna Jarvis was successful in achieving a Mother’s Day holiday she deeply resented its growing commercialism. The market for greeting cards had grown by 1920, and she felt the store bought cards and gifts misrepresented the original intention of the day. She liked the idea of handwritten letters and homemade gifts, and she boycotted card companies, even threatening lawsuits. Sadly, as in many other things, commercialism won out. It seems that the deeper, richer, and stronger meaning of motherhood has become lost in a cloud of sentimentalism.
As I contemplate Mother Nature, and Mother Earth, I am struck by the awesome beauty and power of the force that gives birth to everything. And while mothers can be gentle, there is no ferocity in nature as intense as a mother protecting her young. That is true bravery and unconditional love. I believe mothers fight “for” something, while others battle against. Together we can be unstoppable.
I have been daughter, granddaughter, mother, stepmother, grandmother, and sister. Each of those relationships has been deep and complex–at times loving, and at times filled with conflict and pain. Every aspect of Motherhood has shaped my life and engendered a reverence for the feminine side of the divine. On the second Sunday in May I will honor all that is feminine and all the mothers in the world, whether they are animal or human.
Copyright, 2017, Julie Loar.