Anna Jarvis, one of two women credited with establishing Mother’s Day in the United States, filed a lawsuit in the early part of the last century to stop the over-commercialization of the holiday. She lost that suit, but Jarvis’ fight for a day of quiet reflection and appreciation for the role that mothers play in everyone’s life should live on.
In honor of Jarvis and mothers everywhere, a few thoughts:
• Mothers have always been hard-working, but few have the means to make motherhood their full-time occupation today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70.5 percent of mothers with children younger than age 18 participate in the labor force.
In related research, most mothers and the spouses of the mothers would prefer women to stay at home while raising children, but a majority of people do not object to some work outside the home.
In fact, an ABC News poll in 2005 found that 79 percent of mothers working outside of the home would continue working even if it wasn’t a financial necessity. But many said they would reduce their hours.
• Many mothers are receiving “I love you” wishes from their family members via a computer monitor and satellite connection in a war zone today. More than 85,000 U.S. military moms have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, including 30,000 who are single mothers.
These are moms unable to attend soccer games or dance recitals, and who cannot read their children a story at bedtime. Their multitasking consists of keeping themselves and fellow soldiers safe while completing dangerous missions.
Military moms are making the ultimate sacrifice for everyone’s family.
• There are other mothers getting a “thank you” via those same computer hookups today, too. They are the spouses and partners of soldiers, airmen and seamen deployed overseas. They are carrying the entire household burden on their shoulders, and praying for their loved ones’ safe return.
• Some mothers will not receive any cards or flowers today, but will find satisfaction in just living through the day. They are mothers surviving domestic violence and seeking solace from organizations such as Safe Place in Olympia. They are mothers drowning in drug addiction or alcoholism, or caught up in a life of crime.
• Nearly 360,000 women around the world die in childbirth every year, mostly in poor and developing countries. For these women, becoming a mother is both joyous and life-threatening.
Global health charities, such as the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action, are making real progress in empowering new mothers to care for their infants. About 4 million newborns die every year because the mothers lack knowledge or resources. A study attributed half of the decrease in child mortality over the last half-century to women becoming better educated.
• Finally, some interesting facts about mothers: The U.S. median age for childbirth is 24.8 and rising. A woman has 1 in 33 odds of having twins. Most babies are born on Tuesdays, and in August.
It’s fitting, we think, that Mother’s Day is the world’s most popular shared holiday. While perhaps still over-commercialized — sorry, Anna Jarvis — every card, bouquet of flowers, and phone call this Mother’s Day will come with appreciation for the amazing grace and significant role mothers play in our lives.