Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. ~ Unknown
The idea of officially celebrating Mother’s Day in the United States was championed by two women. Julia Ward Howe first suggested it in 1872.
An activist, writer and poet, Ward is the author of the famous Civil War song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
She suggested that June 2 be celebrated each year as Mother’s Day and that it be dedicated to peace. She wrote a passionate appeal to women urging them to rise against war in her famous Mother’s Day Proclamation, written in 1870.
She also initiated a Mothers’ Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June in Boston and held the meeting for a number of years. Julia tirelessly championed the cause of celebrating Mother’s Day. Her idea spread but was later replaced by the Mother’s Day holiday now celebrated in May.
Anna Jarvis is widely recognized as the founder of Mother’s Day in United States. Even though she never married and never had kids, she is known as the ‘Mother of Mother’s Day.’ Jarvis was inspired to celebrate Mother’s Day because of her own mother, Mrs. Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis.
An activist and social worker, Mrs. Jarvis often expressed her desire that someday someone should honor all mothers, living and dead, and pay tribute to their contributions. Anna never forgot her mother’s desire and when her mother died in 1905, she was determined to fulfill her mother’s dream of having a mother’s day.
Initially Jarvis sent carnations to a church in Grafton, West Virginia to honor her mother. Carnations were her mother’s favorite flower and Anna felt that they symbolized a mother’s pure love.
Later she and some supporters wrote letters to people in positions of power lobbying for the official declaration of Mother’s Day as an official holiday. By 1911, Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state in the Union and on May 8, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Thanks to the efforts of Ward and Jarvis, this Sunday, all across the United States, we celebrate and pay tribute to mothers, grandmothers, caregivers, surrogates and all those aunts, sisters and friends who stand in the place of moms in our lives.
Moreover, as children grow older perhaps there is a correlation between aging and greater appreciation for mothers. When we were young, we thought we knew everything and some of us even thought our mothers were ‘old-folkie,’ too strict or didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.
From a personal standpoint, I can share that—to this day—I frequently hear my mother’s voice warning me or giving me advice that—at the time—I thought was wrong, outdated, or irrelevant, but rings very true in my reality today.
My mother loved children—as is evidenced by the fact that she birthed six children (two died as babies and one as an adult), formally adopted two, informally adopted one, and helped raise more than 52 foster children. As I look back over my life I marvel that she did this, with such a quiet spirit and capacity to love others unconditionally.
The best lesson my mother taught me is the importance of faith and family. Before we ever attended school, my mother made sure that we knew a few things—our first and last names and how to spell them, and that we could recite the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm.
My mother also taught us that family takes care of family. Never has this lesson rang more true for me then it does today, as I raise my two grandchildren.
I am not the only baby boomer that recognizes and appreciates the important lessons that our mothers taught. Some well-known Milwaukee residents share their life lessons taught to them by their mothers, which enabled them to become successful.
Here are their lessons from mom:
“My mother passed away when I was only 13 and my father worked second shift. I vividly remember conversations with my mother about the importance of education and how much she wanted me to receive a college education to escape poverty. Her dream and words never left my consciousness through the adversity of growing up in the inner city and I have repeated that message to every young person that will listen.” (Mother, Annie Mae Crump)
Janie R. Hatton, retired educator/principal/administrator/community activist “My mother’s loving hands would hold my face as she looked at me and often said, “You are a Hill and people judge you by the company you keep. Stand for something that matters. Now, go rest your mind.” My mom’s name was Lueberta Edwards Hill.”
“My brother Anthony, sister Sharon and I had to work in the family-owned businesses where my mother taught us responsibility, entrepreneurship, self-reliance, hard work, love, family and self-pride.
“She was hard on us and demanded a lot. When I wanted to learn music as a teenager, she bought me a drum set. She purchased an erector set for me as a child when I started taking apart stuff around the house, which, along with my school shop classes, got me interested in architecture.
“And, when I started doing stand up comedy in the 1970’s, she was an inspiration for much of my act because the trials and tribulations surrounding our upbringing became really funny as I entered adult life.
“Recently I was looking at her and could not reminisce about any of those many childhood experiences because she has Alzheimer’s and does not remember much about those times.”
“The most important thing my Mother (Betty Guy) has taught me is the love of God and the love of family. My Mom passed away in 2003, but the things she has taught me stay with me every day. She taught by examples, and lived life to the fullest and I try everyday to live up to her examples.”
Happy Mother’s Day and thanks for the love and lessons. They have served us well!