As a writer who’s avid about correct punctuation I’ve been critical of the apostrophe in Mother’s Day, for it implies that the day is just for one mother. I now discover the placement was the decision of Anna Jarvis who was originally responsible for the holiday. Having recently lost her mother, Anna promoted the idea of everyone paying tribute to ONE mother, their own.
That was back in 1904. Since then Anna’s innocent tribute has grown far beyond her intention, like a faucet that overflows into a flood. Just 13 years later President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day a national holiday, to be celebrated on the second Sunday in May. The day’s popularity has been a multi-billion dollar windfall for florists, candy companies and card manufacturers. (Cynics dub the day the Hallmark Holiday.)
Anna, on the other hand, was horrified by the hoopla. She fought a strenuous and costly battle – using her own funds – to have the holiday deleted from the national calendar. Obviously, her efforts weren’t successful. She has been blessed – and resented – by women ever since.
The image of the day is of a beaming mother wearing a corsage (a white carnation is the symbolic flower), while receiving hugs and gifts from her ever-loving, attentive children. But the reality is that this is a sitcom scenario in many cases.
It would be good for all of us to recognize that Mother’s Day is far from joyous for many women. I have a friend who has been desperately trying to conceive without success, and finds Happy Mom reminders painful, like most women in her situation. Think, too, of those who are enduring the unspeakable – the heartbreaking loss of a child. Even when children are well the relationship might not be, for our offspring may be estranged. And since we were once children ourselves, there are many women who, like Anna Jarvis, are mourning the absence of their own mother.
So I suggest that we remain sensitive to the varied feelings of other women. This doesn’t mean condescending sympathy where it may not even be welcome. It means treating one another with empathy and being willing to listen. Flowers wilt, but your words or embrace can have lasting impact – far more meaningful than a box of candy!
BOOKS: COME AND GO – available through BookBaby.com, WIDOW’S WALK –iUniverse.com; TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW –Xlibris.com, TEN WOMEN OF VALOR and ROLE PLAY- Amazon.com; also Amazon Kindle.