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Mothers have been around from the very start, almost 5 minutes after the Big Bang and shortly after Adan tasted that delicious apple. After all, without them life couldn’t be. Surely, mommies from the Middle Stone Age loved their children as much as any modern mom does. How is it possible, then, that such an important role had been so underappreciated and only became celebrated in very recent times?

Nobody can deny the fact that the caring and protection from a mother is the formula for a safe and happy child both physically and mentally, and it’s the basis of every confident, strong adult. Similarly, we all agree that their unconditional devotion does not just obey to the primitive instinct of survival for a biological mission to preserve the species... it’s true love in its purest manifestation. Therefore, a celebration of motherhood seems only fair. But why and how did it happen?

Back in the days when Ann Reeves Jarvis started the “Mother’s Day Work Clubs“ her idea was to teach women how to take proper care of their children, which totally makes sense for a 19th-century activity. Now it’s easy to forget that there was a time when women weren’t allowed to work, vote or go to school, and their only aspiration in life was to be a perfect wife and mother. However, it appears that the scenario was too patriarchic to consider the slightest recognition of women‘s achievements even as mothers, right?

Well, women have always been brave enough to break barriers and empathic enough to fix problems. This is why, after a while, these clubs took a different approach, with a high social and political goal: to promote reconciliation in a wounded nation. In 1868, Jarvis organized the “Mother’s Friendship Day“, at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers.

She wasn’t the only pioneer of this celebration. A couple of years later, Julia Ward Howe, an active abolitionist and suffragette, wrote a piece called “Mother’s Day Proclamation“, asking mothers to unite in promoting world peace, and in 1873 she lead a campaign for a “Mother’s Peace Day“ to be celebrated every June 2.

Mothers asking for peace is not a casual thing, haven’t they done that at home for ages? Jokes aside, it is relevant to acknowledge their involvement in social change through different movements.

It becomes official and commercialized

Following the death of Anna Reeves Jarvis, her daughterAnna Jarvis continued her work, this time to recognize the sacrifices mothers make for their children, and celebrated the first official Mother’s Day at a church in West Virginia in 1908. She had gained support from a retail store in Philadelphia, which simultaneously organized a celebration in the store, congregating thousands of people.

Afterward and arguing that holidays in the US were biased toward male achievements, Jarvis send letters to newspapers and politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood. By 1912 many states had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and she had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause.In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

It wasn’t long before businessmen decided to take part. Suddenly, the original meaning was lost and Jarvis complained about its commercialization. Sheexpressed views on how that was never her intention by stating that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit, and said: "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."

She engaged in a battle against this situation by trying to remove the holiday from the national calendar. As she had trademarked the phrase "Second Sunday in May, Mother's Day”, she sued some companies that had use “Mother’s Day” phrase for advertising. This time, she did not succeed.

Still, celebrate her!

Despite the commercialization or any political position regarding this day, taking a day to recognize mothers for their hard work remains an intimate display of gratitude and mutual love at every home. Whether yours is a stay-at-home mom or has one or two jobs, her dedication is the same.

So, sure, prepare her favorite dinner today but also call her tomorrow and the next 363 days, value all her efforts, and don’t forget Jarvis‘ words –"Mother's" should "be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world."


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