Mothers’ Day is for the most part a very necessary reminder that none of us are “self-made”, that we all have mothers and that all mothers need appreciation and support. Not every mother is a great mother and in celebrating mothers and motherhood it is important that we be aware of that and sensitive to those for whom this day is painful. Not all women are able to have children, not all mothers are happy about having children, not all mothers are responsible and caring, some are even cruel. Some mothers die too young. So while we lift up mothers and motherhood in celebration and gratitude (all who are born have a mother and a life) let’s not try to press it on those who might appreciate a day to be left alone or wish do something else. Mothers’ Day is also about nurturing types of people, men as well as women, who help us to learn, mature and grow and who try to ensure we have a safe place to blossom. Let’s remember and give thanks for them too.
Mothers’ Day was not started by card and flower companies. It began as a response to the American Civil War and the vicious carnage that killed a horrendous number of people, primarily young men, many of whom lived at home prior to going to war. In response to this, Julia Ward Howe, in 1870, issued the following call to mothers:
The increasing talk of and promotion of violence as a solution to problems says to me that we need to take the pain of mothers seriously as never before and learn to non-violently confront those who would do violence to get their way. We don’t need more dead youth and grieving mothers (or fathers) to resolve conflicts in the family, community, nation or world. If you truly want to honour your mother learn the ways of non-violence in the face of injustice and oppression. As Christians we follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who non-violently confronted the oppressors of his day, and from whom we learn that there is no peace without justice in all our relations.
Rev. Paul Mullen