On Mother's Day
Updated: May 8, 2019
The bond between a mother and her child transcends distance, time, circumstance, and even death.
Mother’s Day is a time we remember and celebrate mothers everywhere. We collectively honor and recognize women who have children and, independent of our ages, we remember our own mothers…those living and deceased. It’s evidence that this bond between child and mother transcends things like distance and space and time; it’s not broken or forgotten with geographic divide, and not even in death.
But, what of the often overlooked mothers whose babies and children are deceased? If you are among these women who experienced the loss of a pregnancy, or the death of your baby or child, this is an impossibly painful day. You may feel trapped in between, not quite fitting in with women who have children, and not identifying with those who don’t. Mother’s Day was supposed to have been very different for you, cradling your baby or child in your arms, celebrating, getting ready for a Sunday brunch out, or excitedly awaiting a long-distance call...not alone in pain.
My message to you is this: You are still a mother. The loss of your pregnancy or the death of your baby didn’t break that bond. It can’t, and it won’t ever break that bond. Today, I recognize and celebrate you, and I remember your babies and your children.
To those of you who are desperately wanting and actively working (and working hard) to become mothers – living in constant fear that it isn’t going to happen - those of you who are battling infertility, and those of you waiting and praying to be matched for a private adoption, my message to you is this: Don’t stop. Don’t give up. You can do this. Stay the course. Today, I recognize and celebrate you, and I look forward to the arrival of your future babies and children, even if their deliveries are delayed beyond your ideal time frame.
Persevere in your grief, on your path, and even when you don’t have hope, know that I have more than enough for us both. Throughout my professional career, I have worked with thousands of women who were once in your shoes who have gone on to find happiness and joy in their futures. Yes, it was a fight, and sometimes a long and brutal one at that, but they did it, and you can too.
My message to you is this: You are still a mother. The loss of your pregnancy or the death of your baby didn’t break that bond. It can’t, and it won’t ever break that bond.
This weekend, and on Sunday in particular, I encourage you to reflect back on the history of this holiday and find inspiration and some sense of comfort in its origins.
Mother’s Day dates back to the 1850s when Ann Reeves Jarvis organized Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and decrease infant mortality by fighting infections, disease, and milk contamination. In addition, during the U.S. Civil War from 1861-1865, these women served as caregivers, tending to wounded soldiers from both the Confederate and Union armies. Following the war, Jarvis’ efforts continued with Mother’s Friendship Day picnics and other events that encouraged women to be politically active and specifically focused on the promotion of peace.
The official Mother’s Day holiday, however, is associated with Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis. Anna was one of 11 children, and one of the 4 who lived to become adults. In 1905, upon her mother’s death, Anna conceived of this holiday as a personal way to honor her mother and the sacrifices other mothers made for their children. The holiday was embraced by many, but quickly became commercialized, much to Anna’s great disappointment and eventual disgust. In her eyes, the simple significance was a day of personal celebration between mothers and their families. Her vision was wearing a white carnation as a badge and visiting one’s mother or attending church. Anna spent the rest of her life fighting against Mother’s Day profiteers until her death in 1948.
Today, Mother’s Day remains commercialized and Anna Jarvis would likely hate it…and for different reasons, some of you might too. And yet, on this day, I challenge you to reflect back and remember Ann Jarvis’ dedication and commitment to decreasing infant mortality and embrace the simplicity that Anna Jarvis once envisioned. You also have made tremendous sacrifices, whether you hold your children in your arms, in your hearts over a long distance (geographically or otherwise), or may be still waiting.
Today, I remember my own mother with deep love and gratitude. I remember each and every one of you who is a mother yourself. I also remember each and every one of you who is trapped in between worlds. And I remember each and every one of you who is in waiting. You are an amazing group of women and today I stand up for you and with you. And, I wish you the peace from which this day first originated.
Happy Mother’s Day.