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The True Meaning of Mother’s Day

By Jennifer Bews

While Mother’s Day has passed, Jennifer Bews wrote this for us to share on Mother’s Day and it is such a beautiful piece that we wanted to share it with you in our print magazine in case you missed reading it online.

Mother’s Day is upon us and every year when it approaches, I think about how painful this day was for me not very long ago. While for many women, this special day can be full of love and gratitude from their loved ones, but for some, it can bring up feelings of loneliness, loss and inadequacy. But what I have recently discovered regarding the history of Mother’s Day and the true meaning of “mothering” is that this day is far beyond what I had previously thought.

Mother’s Day began as a day of peace by social justice advocate, Julia Ward Howe, which was intended to honour and support mothers who had lost sons and husbands to the Civil War. Her original vision was for this to be a day when others would come together to discuss the ways in which to achieve world peace. She proclaimed, “Arise, then women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!…We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs” (Peace Alliance, 2015).

Furthermore, what I have found enlightening is the notion that the term “mother” does not just belong to women with children, but to all individuals who set out to care for another. Gloria Steinem defines mothering as “to care about the welfare of another person as much as one’s own” and that to mother depends on “empathy and thoughtfulness, noticing and caring…the only pairing in which the older and the younger, the strong and the weak are perfectly matched” (Steinem, 2019).

Lastly, I want to be mindful of every woman who has lost a child or a pregnancy and dedicate this day to them and their sacrifices as well. Motherhood is a critical time when a woman’s psychological and psychosocial well-being drastically shifts effecting their decision-making abilities. And as Chichester & Harding (2021) explain, “once pregnant, a women’s identity can be permanently altered as she starts to define herself as a mother, whether she has living children or not” (p. 29).

And so, with this history and beautifully expansive definition of motherhood, I wish to celebrate all nurturers and encourage us all to work together to create a more peaceful and loving world.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Sources:

Chichester, M., & Harding, K. (2021). Early pregnancy loss: Invisible but real. Nursing, 51, 28-32.

Steinem, G. (2019). The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off: Thoughts on Life, Love and Rebellion. New York, NY. Penguin Random House.

The Peace Alliance (May 8, 2015). History of Mother’s Day as a Day of Peace: Julia Ward Howe. https://peacealliance.org/history-of-mothers-day-as-a-day-of-peace-julia-ward-howe/

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