I love learning new things! A woman named Anna Jarvis spearheaded Mother’s Day as a way to honor her own badass mother who cared for Civil War soldiers and taught Sunday school. She spent an inordinate amount of time and energy convincing Congress to recognize it as a national holiday, which they did in 1914. But then when it got commercialized, she was all like, oops, just kidding guys! Changed my mind!
Nicole Russell of The Atlantic sheds light on this crazy irony:
In a press release, [Jarvis] wrote florists and greeting card manufacturers were “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.” She went door-to-door collecting petitions to rescind Mother’s Day and spent the rest of her life trying to abolish the holiday she founded.
I’m not crazy about Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day, for that matter) but it’s not because of the commercialization. It’s more because I just have no idea what it’s supposed to be about. Do I spend time with just my mom on Mother’s Day? Make it all about her? Am I competing with my sister to demonstrate who loves mommy more? Or should I actually put all of my focus on my mom’s mom, the matriarch of the family? Or do I just hang out with my own little family because I’m a new mom? Mother’s Day, to me, feels like everybody talking at the same time and nobody listening.
And then I have my own personal reasons for being weird about the holiday. Call me lazy and selfish and whatever, but my mother’s birthday is May 3rd, which falls so very close to Mother’s Day. This happens every year but somehow STILL, after nearly three decades of having a mother, manages to surprise me.
As a kid, we would just ask my dad to buy something nice for mom. When I got a little older, I would make my mom some lame homemade gift for one of the two holidays, and then I’d buy something a little nicer for the other one. But now I’m a new working mom with postpartum depression and I can barely keep my own shit together, and I feel like an ass but I didn’t even call her on her birthday and I still have no idea what (if anything?) I’m going to do for Mother’s Day.
I see what Jarvis wanted to do when she created the holiday: she wanted to honor one of her greatest role models in a really big way. But I don’t think that’s something we need to do culture-wide as a holiday, I think we need to honor our role models frequently and shower them with love daily because they freaking deserve it. And bring them flowers and breakfast in bed just because.