This Sunday will mark the 110th annual celebration of Mother’s Day, and while that could mean many different things to any one individual based on the relationship they have with their mother, the moral from the original meaning behind the day can still serve as an important reminder to all of us today.
Mother’s Day was created through the advocacy of Anna Jarvis in memory of her late mother, Ann, who worked as a peace activist and caregiver to soldiers during the Civil War, regardless of which side they fought for.
Jarvis felt it important to carry on her mother’s legacy and show her gratitude for all that her mother had done for her, and she once said that mothers could be described as “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”
Those who have read Aldous Huxley’s eminent work of totalitarian fiction, A Brave New World, may understand the eerie implications of a world with no mothers. The work takes place in a dystopian London where bio-engineering has eliminated the need for traditional birthing and parenting. Children are created in a mass-produced laboratory, pre-destined for social classes and indoctrinated to love the state and denounce older, “primitive” ways such as mothers and fathers and family in general.
The characters in this world are hypnotized through carefully-crafted audible repetitions while they sleep from the time they are small children until they reach a certain point in adolescence. This results in them not only being unaware of other ways of life, but to become actively intrigued through revulsion when one of the protagonists brings back a man who was birthed naturally. They refer to this character only as a “savage.”
The point of the book is that, while the people in this disturbing believe that they are living in a Utopian society free of major illnesses and problems which we still face in our own society related to social and economical inequality, they are blatantly unaware of how they have been completely robbed of individuality, nurturing and love – and unaware of how truly sad that existence is – while their only purpose in life is to serve the state and not rock the boat.
While by no means does everybody have a perfect mother, the role of a mother or matronly figure in a child’s life is inarguably one of the most important factors for a child to grow into a healthy, well functioning adult. Mothers, in the best circumstances, provide a sense of unfaltering love, stability, safety and encouragement to their children, and the absence of those elements can have disastrous results on a child’s life long-term.
When it was first proposed, Mother’s Day was essentially thought to be a silly idea. Dedicating a day to appreciating your mother wasn’t seen as something that warranted a holiday; people should love their mothers and show that appreciation every day, critics thought.
However, the same argument could be made about other holidays as well. We should appreciate military service veterans and their sacrifices made every day, but that doesn’t mean having days like Veterans’ Day or Memorial Day cheapens that fact. Having one particular day to put mothers who have helped us become who we are does not mean we don’t appreciate their love every other day of the year.
Unfortunately, the gears of capitalism in America were not so resistant to the idea of Mother’s Day. In fact, producers of flowers and greeting cards thought it was such a brilliant idea that they eventually drove the day’s original creator into bitterly rebuking the holiday she had created due to the over-saturation of consumerism that crept into what was originally intended to be a day free of hollow material showings of affection.
“A maudlin, insincere printed card or ready-made telegram means nothing except that you’re too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone else in the world,” Jarvis once said, also adding that, “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card.”
Jarvis would take her resentment of what the holiday was becoming even farther, eventually being arrested for disturbing the peace while trying to cease the rampant sales of carnations, which had become the most commonly employed “go-to” gift for children to send their mothers on the day.
While, once again, not everyone is lucky enough to have a great relationship with their mother – and some even less fortunate have no relationship or no mother at all – the point Jarvis was trying to fight for still holds true. There are people in our lives who have helped shape us and steer us in a direction towards being better. These people, regardless of their blood relation or lack thereof, are all “motherly” in their caring towards us, and deserve heartfelt appreciation, not a hastily bought card with a signature.
And while it is by no means an unforgivable sin to show your love and appreciation with a material gift – maybe mom really needs a new blender this year and she just hasn’t been able to justify the purchase herself – make sure to write a note with it telling her that you miss her, that you’re thankful for what she’s done for you, and that she is loved.
The most important person in our lives, often, is the one who gave birth to us – and that’s a very unique and strong bond. Even in the case that the most important person or people have no actual relation to you, showing your appreciation through words and actions is something that will always be cherished by those to whom you mean the world as well.