This weekend is Mother’s Day. I have recently learned this national holiday has a strange and complicated history including the originator of the day, Anna Jarvis (1920), lobbying hard to remove it from the calendar due to how commercialized it had become.
Like many holidays, Mother’s Day has taken on a life of its own, detached from its historical roots. For some of us, it is a time to reflect, honor, and mourn a mother we have lost. For others, it is a day of thanks for the mothers still living and loving in our lives. Mother’s Day can also be an opportunity to celebrate motherhood worldwide.
I must admit, I empathize with Anna Jarvis’s distaste for what Mother’s Day has become; a holiday card, flowers, and a gift over brunch. Like many holidays, it seems that commercialism has robbed the day of its essence. All of us were brought into the world through the remarkable, potentially dangerous, definitely difficult, process of pregnancy and birth. This nine-month journey, and hours/days- long labor and delivery is astonishing. How can we fully express our gratitude for our life through their labor? That gift is elemental. Primal. It deserves ritual. Relationships with our mothers may be difficult and complicated, but becoming a mother, the gift of bringing life into the world, deserves to be honored simply and in a way that no Hallmark card will ever capture.
Don’t get me wrong. This Sunday, my mother will come over to our house for brunch. I will get her flowers. I will work with Jakob and Lena to write a card and buy a gift for Raphaela, my wife, their mother. Raphaela and I will mourn the loss of her mother and honor memories of her we hold dear. We will laugh, and toast, and express gratitude, and somehow fall short of how to fully say, “thanks.”