A Day for Mothers: Two Meanings

This picture was taken in April. I am the one standing; Lena is on the right and my cousin Phyllis Jacobson is on the left. Together we add up to 245 years, a lot of mothering!

By ellensue

When I became engaged to a wonderful man from Philadelphia in 2003, I “acquired” Alan’s mother Lena, who is still alive and well at 99. Not only is she alive and well; she is also a pleasant, wonderful person who loves to keep busy. When she was younger and worked at a knitting shop, the customers called her the “sweater doctor,” because she could fix customers’ projects in a flash. She still knits and crochets faster than anyone I have even known.

My relationship with my husband’s mother is cemented by our mutual love of knitting, because we often knit together when
I visit her in her senior living center. Me, the multi-tasking whirling dervish, sits and knits and chats with Lena. Something about the knitting process unravels me in a gentle way, like taking a calming pill. As we create scarves and sweaters and booties, the words between us flow like molasses, saying nothing, yet saying everything. I am not sure whether it’s the knitting that creates this kind of peaceful interaction or the company of my mother-in-law. I suspect a little of both is at work, as she shares tales of my husband as a boy and stories of her knitting adventures with dresses made on size zero needles, competed in less than one month.

I use to think that knitting was just a hobby. But now I realize it is also a form of therapy for the body and the mind, almost a meditation. As my hands create something real, my mind becomes cleared of anything bothering me. Lap swimming has that same effect, except I can’t pick up laps the way I do knitting needles. The source of calmness that comes from knitting is always at my fingertips. And just thinking that I can create something with two sticks and a ball of string still amazes me!

Being with someone older than myself and learning new knitting techniques at the same time are gifts that I cherish daily. While some may say that my almost daily visits to my mother-in-law is a wonderful gesture on my part—after all, she is old and in need of constant cetc, etc. etc.— What they don’t get is that I am the one who benefits from the visits, probably more than Lena. All the other things that I could be doing or should be doing pale in comparison to the quality time well spent with someone who has been around for nearly an entire century. The richness of her life adds to my life each time we spend time together. I laughingly once told my husband when he was my fiance, even if we decided not to be together, I would still visit his mother.

When there is someone precious in your life, take the time to be with that person in a way that fills both of you with joy and pleasure. Throw away the clock for a short while and just be with that person without thinking about what you could be doing instead. There will always be books to read and meals to cook and plays to see, but people die and then they are no longer here to share your lives. Please donՉ۪t take these moments for granted. Time well spent with a loved one will always have a special place in your heart.

RECIPE FOR TODAY’S POSTING: NO RECIPE: Eat out or have someone else cook for you! It’s Mothers’ Day.

In place of a recipe I have included an article which explains the original meaning behind Mothers’ Day. I like to think that Julia Ward Howe’s poem for peace as well as the later idea of one Anna Jarvis to have a day to honor mothers are under the same umbrella: honoring mothers so they can honor their children by taking positive actions for peace. (This article is reprinted from one of many I found from typing in Julia Ward Howe in Google. However, I have changed Mother’s to Mothers’, replacing the elusive, ubiquitous apostrophe so that the word is always in the PLURAL, meaning that all mothers, aunts, sisters, etc. can celebrate this day as a cohesive unit, rather than singly, one mother at a time. )

Mothers’ Day Proclamation of 1870
Mothers’ Peace Day

The first person to fight for an official Mothers’ Day celebration in the United States was Julia Ward Howe. You may be more familiar with her name as the writer who wrote the words to the Civil War song, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” But she is also known for something else, as you will see below.

Howe was born in New York City on May 27, 1819. Her family was well respected and wealthy. She was a published poet and abolitionist. She and her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, co-published the anti-slavery newspaper The Commonwealth. She was active in the peace movement and the women’s suffrage movement. In 1870 she penned the Mothers’ Day Proclamation. In 1872 the Mothers’ Peace Day Observance on the second Sunday in June was held and the meetings continued for several years. Her idea was widely accepted, but she was never able to get the day recognized as an official holiday. The Mothers’ Peace Day was the beginning of the Mothers’ Day holiday in the United States now celebrated in May.

The modern commercialized celebration of gifts, flowers and candy bears little resemblance to Howe’s original idea. Here is the Proclamation that explains, in her own powerful words, the goals of the original Mothers’ Day in the United States…

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“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 bosum (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 our 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.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if on some distant Mother’s Day, the wishes of Julia Ward Howe could be fulfilled and the human race could celebrate a day when, all over the world, no mother would have to mourn the death of her child lost in war or terrorist attacks…

To all of the mothers whose children are fighting in wars – and to mothers whose children are growing up with wars raging around them or with terrorism threatening their safety… Wishes of strength, peace and hope for this Mothers’ Day…

6 thoughts on “A Day for Mothers: Two Meanings

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