In the United States, Anna Jarvis was credited for conceiving and advocating this special day for mothers. The day was recognized as a holiday in 1914. Allegedly, Anna was heartbroken about how the day became a marketing sensation over time and that ever more people chose to buy and send a card, a gift, or flowers to their mother in order to feel good about what they did. The idea was to make mother feel more loved and special on that one day than she had done for her children. Over time, the commercialization of the holiday soured Anna on what she created, and she tried, but failed, to remove it as a holiday.
But, just as no two mothers are alike, the convenience of gifting has not stopped us from celebrating our mothers more on this special Sunday in May. I have memories of my mother tied to this day, from my childhood up to today. My mother was my protector and friend. Even before I had memory of that I can see it on my face and on her face in photographs. She involved me in her life, put me first most of the time, sang to me, encouraged me, and taught me to find joy in this world. I think she knew, and most mothers know how important it is to teach love and joy soon, before the world teaches competition, defensiveness, and goals like getting something for yourself. Mother is about giving all for someone else – you.
My mother gave birth to two more sons, each spaced three years after me. When she brought her new baby home, I saw the glow on her face and the love in her eyes that once was all mine. I learned later, what I could not understand then, that she never stopped loving me with all of her heart. Love does not fit neatly into a measuring cup. There are no limits to love unless we put limits on it. I wish that I understood that at ages three and six. Seeing her love for my baby brothers was for me too, and by watching it, I could see the effect she had on my brothers and a glimpse of how great her heart was for her child. My mother will be 84 next month, and her loving heart is still great.
As I grew up, I saw concern and even fear in her eyes when I left her care to go to school, to play football, and when I got so sick that all that she could do for me was not enough. I saw boundless joy in her when I married, and especially when my wife put my baby son, then my baby daughter in her arms. But, something changed then.
Just as she had to divide her attention as a mother when my brothers were born, I had to put the mother of my children first. Later, I saw how my mother’s eyes dimmed as her mother began the last years of her life. She wanted to do so much for her mother, but life is like a baton that is passed from one runner to another. Once the baton is passed, we don’t see the one who passed it so clearly because with the baton, purpose also passed. Her mother is still remembered by her on Mother’s Day, and every day, I think.
As I write this article, early on Mother’s Day, 2019, I get ready to call my mother on the telephone. She lives two states south of me and my wife, where she cares for one of my brothers whose life became one of sickness for him and great sorrow for her. My children will honor their mother today, and I will be part of that. I wish that I could hold onto the baton longer for my mother, but it has already been passed. Anna Jarvis did a good thing for mothers, and for our mothers, we should do what we can, all that we can, to tell our mothers that we love them, and that we always will.