Real Meaning of Mothers Day:
By Kara L.C. Jones
Why I'll be walking for them this year...
"... let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead..."
~Julia Ward Howe, Boston, 1870
Mothers Day certainly stinks if your child is dead. In fact all holidays usually stink, but especially Mothers and Fathers Days which seem to be just made-up, corporate-driven, commercial entities -- those especially stink. I never had the energy to delve further than greeting card companies to learn about Mothers Day, never knew where it came from, nor why it is still celebrated with no sense of the tradition being mentioned.
Several years ago, to my surprise, I got a history lesson. A group of women where we lived on Vashon Island decided that they didn't want to celebrate and contribute to the capitalistic greet card economy anymore. They wanted to protest against violence. They wanted to express their maternal feelings for ALL children of any race, nationality, religion, gender, alive or dead. And they wanted to honor the power of that expression. So there in our little piece (peace) of earth, there was a parade, a small festival-atmosphere gathering at Ober Park lawn and playground. And they were spreading the original meaning of Mothers Day as Julia Ward Howe wrote about and visioned it!!!!
What???? When they told me about this endeavor, I was so intrigued that Mothers Day had a real and meaningful history. I still was not able to bring myself to march with them and celebrate with all their beautiful, living children playing while I was smarting at the heart, grieving my dead son and my motherhood lost. *But*
I had a much greater appreciation for Mothers Day, for history, for taking a stand against violence and war to save the world's children. And here's why:
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe wrote and published a protest against the carnage and violence of the Civil War -- this was a protest led by Women Who Had Lost Their Sons!!!!!
It was bereaved mothers who started this!!!! Greeting card companies are WAY OFF the mark with the way this holiday is commercialized and propagated now, *but*
in the beginning, this was a day of protest, an expression of horrified grief from bereaved mothers who were parted from their sons!! Wow. Okay. That's a different spin.
So what did Julia have to say back in 1870? You read and see for yourself:
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!
Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.
In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.
Julia Ward Howe
HELLO!!!!???????? Mothers Day came as an answer to Julia's proclamation. It started as a ceremony of bereavement and then as a movement for peace and action to stop the senseless deaths of children everywhere. Our society can commercialize all they want. Because in my heart of hearts I know the real meaning of this day came from pain, loss, and grief -- the same things I feel on any given Mothers Day. And from now on, when people urge me to celebrate the day, I will tell them this:
I'll celebrate with you as long as you will first mourn with me. It is the combination of the two that lends itself to the true meaning of Mothers Day!
And I'm happy to say that this year I feel much stronger, so my husband and I will be walking on Mothers Day with all the other MISS Families at the Phoenix Zoo as part of Empty Strollers, Empty Shoes: we walk for them
. Let us now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let us meet first, as bereaved parents, to bewail and commemorate the dead. And then lets celebrate the love we all have, the love that death cannot touch!
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