This Sunday we will celebrate Mother’s Day across the country and billions of dollars will be spent on brunches, cards, jewelry, candy, flowers and other trinkets all to say, “Thanks for being my mom.”
And Anna Jarvis absolutely hates us for this.
Jarvis, who is credited with starting the holiday in the United States, was looking for a way to honor her own mother, who died in 1905. So she began campaigning for an official holiday to honor “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world” and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson granted her request, declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
But this is where it gets even more interesting.
Of course, this being America, companies quickly realized they could make a lot of money off of this. And I mean, A LOT. To put it in perspective, Americans today typically spend over $2 billion on flowers alone!
According to the history books, Jarvis became so enraged at the over-commercialization of the holiday by greeting card companies and other businesses that were trying to capitalize on it, she tried to rescind the holiday she created. She organized protests, including one at a candy makers’ convention and another at an organization selling carnations, which was the flower that became associated with the occasion back in the day. She was even arrested for disturbing the peace at the latter event. She spent the rest of her life trying to convince people this was a day to simply express love and gratitude to your mother by writing a personal letter or making a card, not going out and buying something.
If Jarvis were alive today, she would probably be serving time in a maximum-security prison for bombing Hallmark, FTD and/or Shari’s Berries and maybe even Pajamagrams – because nothing says “I love you, Mom” more than the “Hooded Footie.”
I do agree with Miss Jarvis that we tend to over-commercialize every holiday in this country. My husband and I both agree Valentine’s Day is the biggest offender — other than maybe using it as an excuse to throw a nice steak on the grill at home, we don’t even celebrate it.
But with that said, if any holiday deserves to have presents associated with it, it’s this one.
And I’ll tell you why. I don’t know this for sure because I can’t time travel (yet), but I really feel it is harder to be a mom in this day and age than any other time in history.
Sure, electricity, vaccines and other technological advances like bouncy chairs have made things easier in some regards, but those same technological advances have also given us the opportunity to drive ourselves completely mad.
Yes, pioneers had to struggle just to keep their children from being eaten by a coyote or dying of small pox, but other than that, they had it easy!
They didn’t have to figure out how to work car seats or to assemble a pack-and-play, “sleep train” or build a separate garage for the fleet of strollers you apparently have to own, plan spectacular, Pinterest-worthy birthday parties, pick the right daycare/preschool/real school, chauffeur them to enough extracurricular activities so they are well-rounded but not overwhelmed, monitor Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and other things you haven’t even heard of yet, limit their screen time, learn new math, pack their lunches and their snacks, and remember to fill out their permission slips that are due tomorrow and that they need money for ice cream on Friday and that one needs to bring a pillowcase to school one day and the other needs to dress like a circus performer the next, and on and on and on. Oh, and also be a great wife somewhere in there too (if there’s time). It’s exhausting.
Maybe those pioneer moms had it right all along. Do you think Caroline Ingalls sat up all night taping custom labels on water bottles and making party favors for little Laura’s birthday party? Not bloody likely. She was too busy trying to give Chuck that boy he always wanted, if you know what I mean.
And on top of all of these things modern moms have to remember to do for their children, they also apparently have to enlist in their branch of the Mom Services and fight battles in the “Mommy Wars,” where stay-at-moms make working moms feel like selfish, neglectful tools who let daycare workers raise their children and working moms make stay-at-homes feel like lazy, Bon-Bon eating idiots who have no other purpose in life other than infant butt-wiping and carpooling. It’s dumb and usually fought on the battlefields at dinner parties. The first shot fired from both sides is, “So what do you do?” Followed, by “Ohhhhh” and a stink face.
And it’s just because we always think the grass is greener on the other side, even if we had a choice in what we are currently doing. There are many mornings as I am trying to get one kid to school on time and myself to work that I look over longingly at my neighbor who stays at home and I fantasize about having her day. And I am sure there are SAHMs who fantasize about having mine. But the nastiness is yet another thing of the many that can make us feel like inadequate mothers. Ladies, I say we all wave our white flags and be nice to each other. As long as our kids know they are loved, I think they’ll be just fine.
So anyway, Anna Jarvis, I get the whole over-commercialization thing, but trust me, if anyone deserves some flowers (though not carnations – yuck!) and a gift certificate for a mani-pedi, it’s Mama. But a handwritten note telling her how much she rocks — instead of some generic card with a cat or a misty mountain on it — would be pretty nice too. So I’m with you on that one.