The campaign to start the United States’ Mothers’ Day was the brainchild of Anna Jarvis in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Mrs. Jarvis also created “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to help address public health issues. Anna wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work Mrs. Jarvis started and to create a day to honor all mothers because Anna believed that a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.
So today I am paying homage to my mother, Janet, as well as the millions of women who have mothered children, whether their own or others.
I was blessed with the world’s best mother. I know many will claim the same, but it’s true. She is far from perfect, but it is that imperfection that made her such a great mother. The harsh reality is that she didn’t have the best role model initially but was surrounded later in life by another wonderful mother (her mother-in-law) who helped and supported her in becoming the woman and mother I am grateful for today.
I never once in my life ever doubted that my mother loved me. I was FAR from perfect and made some really big mistakes. There were times that my parents were furious with me, yelling and begging to understand how I could be so irresponsible or stupid. But when the dust cleared and tempers lowered, she* would always say that the anger was born out of the fact that she loved me absolutely and without hesitation.
My mother protected us and tried to shield us from the ugliness that this world breeds. But she was also very honest when we would have questions. She became this master at balance. She knew that telling us that the world was all rose and rainbows would leave us ill-prepared for the real world, so she would give us real answers that she knew we could handle. Somehow, she crafted those answers so that we understood the reality but were still buffeted from the too much ugliness. When I look back I realize how hard her job was, but to me she made it look so easy.
It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I started to understand just how much of yourself you give to your children. It’s not just your heart, but it’s your entire being. There was an enormous shift in myself when I became a mother, that overwhelming awareness that your life is now physically embodied by two beings, yourself and your child. I looked to my mother even more in those early days, more than she will ever know. I was lucky that my mother chose to stay with us for the first month after our daughter was born. And not just as chief baby holder. My mother cooked, cleaned, grocery shopped, and did laundry so that I could adjust to the little human that took over our lives. Sure, she had a lot of time with her darling granddaughter, but the physical household support she provided and the quiet reassurances that we were doing a great job were worth everything.
I am the woman I am because of the woman and mother that Janet was. I too am not perfect, but my daughter would say that I am the best mom. And I am the best mom because I learned from the best.
So today, I thank my mother, Janet, for the courage, strength and overwhelming love that has never wavered in 50 years. For teaching me that life is hard but I am never alone in the struggle, there is always a voice that will comfort and encourage me, and it is her voice.
*Please note I am not excluding my dad, but this is a Mothers Day post.