I bet that you probably have no idea where Mother’s Day got its start. I always figured it was sort of like Valentine’s Day– cooked up in some secret meeting between card companies, florists, jewelers, and others looking for a holiday by which they could market and sell things.
Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Mother’s Day actually started as part of a peace movement, and at a time when our nation is fighting (at least) two wars, when so many other nations in the world are at war, when violence seems to have become a way of life, when so many are, like me, conflicted over how to feel and act after Osama bin Laden’s death, it’s important to remember the true origin of Mother’s Day. It was not intended as a day for children to celebrate their mothers, though this is a wonderful thing which should be done every day, but rather as a day for mothers around the world to come together for the cause of peace, to work together to ensure that their children would not need to fight and kill one another.
The creator of Mother’s Day was Julia Ward Howe, the same woman who wrote the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” She issued the following Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870:
Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will 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, the 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 a 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 out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough 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 solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And 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.
In many ways, reflecting on peace, and what it would mean for us to realize that every person truly is somebody’s baby, is a way for me to celebrate my mothers. Yes, I have two, a mother and a stepmom, both of whom love me dearly and have made me into the woman I am today. Both are huge advocates of caring for others, of making a difference, of fighting for what you believe in. I may be an opinionated, outspoken, passionate person, but I am this way because I was raised by people who loved me enough to give me a voice, to believe that I had something to say, to have the courage to stand by my convictions. So, on Mother’s Day, I am thankful for the opportunity to be raised by two strong, loving women. I’m sure I’ll never understand their sacrifices until I have children of my own. I hope to be the kind of woman they’ve always known and dreamed I would be, and on Mother’s Day and every day, I continue to pray for peace.