When Anna Jarvis was 12 years old, she heard her mother’s prayer in Sunday school class following a teaching on mothers of the Bible: “I hope that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers’ day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.” At her mother’s graveside service, Anna remembered, and said, “…by the grace of God, you shall have that Mother’s Day.” So, in 1908, Anna followed through on her decision and created Mother’s Day to honor mothers.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared it a national holiday to be celebrated on the second Sunday in May. By the early 1920’s card companies began selling Mother’s Day cards. It became so commercialized, that Anna called it a “Hallmark Holiday”. According to my research, Anna was arrested for disturbing the peace while protesting the commercialization of Mother’s Day. She and her sister Ellsinore spent their family inheritance campaigning against what the holiday had become. She said that she “wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control! A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”. What was supposed to be a personal and loving tribute became a commercial holiday. Over one hundred years later, Mother’s Day remains one of the biggest days for long distance phone calls, dining out, and buying gifts, flowers and cards.

Mother’s Day can be a day of mixed emotions. For those who are mothers and who still have mothers with them, Mother’s Day can be a family day with a meal, a floral bouquet, and lots of hugs and smiles. Those who are miles away may spend it alone. Perhaps there is a call or a FaceTime conversation.  

Women who do not have their mothers, find it’s a sentimental and perhaps sad day. I lost my Mom when I was in my late twenties and she hadn’t reached sixty. Early in my loss,and also when I lost my grandmother, I approached Mother’s Day with tears.  As grief evolved and I became a mother, the day became more sentimental and the crayon cards and sweet flowers from my children were priceless. I don’t need a holiday to remember my Mom. Her presence is with me every day—whether I’m preparing one of her recipes or remembering her gentle spirit; thinking about how hard she worked, or how much she prayed for me. I often talk about her to my daughters, so that they can “know” her. Now as a Mom of three, and one who has lived longer than my mother, I am blessed beyond measure by who my daughters are becoming as women and mothers.

But there are other responses to Mother’s Day too.

For those who did not/do not have the best relationship with their mothers, it can be a day laced with disappointments or regrets. For some there is estrangement that is exaggerated by the holiday. And those who long to be mothers and have empty arms, find it painful, may want to ignore it, or try to wish the holiday away.

One of my friends, who never became a biological or adoptive mother, said she has had opportunities to “mother” the children of friends and nieces and nephews. Another takes the admonition of Titus 2:3-5 seriously and has been a spiritual mother to several younger women. Another still lives in loss and doesn’t go to church and avoids restaurants that day.

So for this Mother’s Day…

    whether your mother is living, or no longer with you, or you have been “mothered” in ways as my two friends have done, you may want to record special reflections of time spent together, and slip it in a photo album or scrapbook, and pass those thoughts on to your children. Psalm 145:4 says,

“One generation will commend your works to another, they will tell of your mighty acts.”

  as you reflect on your mother’s influence and that of special women, say a prayer of gratitude.

  if you spot a woman in church whose children live a distance away, offer a hug and a smile.

1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, …

  for “that” woman who is grieving the loss of a child, and the one who is childless, pray for her.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

  and if you were fortunate to have your mother and other women shape and influence you in special ways, offer thanks and a prayer for yourself to be the kind of mother by His grace, you hope to become, and opportunities to influence others

On Sunday, Facebook will be flooded with photos and comments about Mother’s Day. Not everyone will have that kind of Mother’s Day. It can be more than a Hallmark holiday. How will you make it so?

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