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Mother’s Day: What is the Point?

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Mother’s Day: What is the Point?

I had a conversation with my 3-year-old the other day about what, if anything, we were going to do for his mom on Mother’s Day. I suggested a few different options (a cake, a gift, a dance performance, etc) when I noticed my son was not all that interested in exploring the gift options for his mother. “What about my gift?” he whinely inquired, obviously nonplussed by the idea of a celebration occurring without his benefit being considered. I gently explained to him the significance of mother’s day and how it was one day (out of hundreds) that we “honor” moms everywhere. Dead silence, and then he hits back with this rejoinder, “What about kid’s day, I think we should celebrate kid’s day instead.”

I would be remiss if I, the author of a parenting blog, did not make mention of the annual phenomenon of Mother’s Day. It is arguably the biggest and most widely celebrated of all of the holidays to honor a group of individuals (sorry Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, and Secretaries Day) and is a veritable windfall for florists, chocolate makers, and long distance companies worldwide.

For some it is a requisite day to play nice with their mother’s and buy brunch, for others it is a day of humble reverence and respect paid to women who would (and in some cases have) split themselves in two for the sake of their children.

An interesting bit of trivia links the origins of Mother’s Day back to the feminist and pacifist Julia Ward Howe, who in 1870 wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in response to what she saw as unnecessary carnage and loss endured in the American Civil War as well as the Franco Prussian War. Howe’s belief was that it was women who held the responsibility to shape and influence societies on a social and political level.

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Read more: Children, Family, Holidays, Holidays & Gifts, Life, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

73 comments

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12:35AM PDT on Oct 7, 2010

My Mother was grew up very poor during the Depression and there was no money for celebrations of any sort. She LOVED all the commemorative days and made a big fuss over them all, decorating, etc. She loved giving and getting cards, and chose each one lovingly and carefully. It took very little to make her happy, and she graciously and warmly accepted all our gifts, no matter how gaudy or over-the-top they may have been in our younger years, because it meant that we had thought of her. Mother's Day, Father's Day-they are still important and relevant and I wish I had my Mom and Dad still with me to celebrate them. Now I go to the cemetery and put a flower on their graves.

6:11PM PDT on Aug 25, 2010

I had never known the early history of this holiday and had always assumed it was a "Hallmark" spurred festivity. Thanks for setting me straight.

1:48AM PDT on Aug 22, 2010

its important

8:03PM PDT on Jul 11, 2010

I look foreword to Mother's Day because it gives me a chance to do something nice for my mom, who lives out of state. I do get a little sad around Father's Day because my grandad recently passed away and my biological father died back in 1992. However, my mother has since remarried and I was happy to have a "new" dad to honor. I used to ask my parents when "kids day" was and my dad would tell me that it's "every day".

3:40AM PDT on Jun 23, 2010

Great article. Thanks Eric!!

3:47PM PDT on Jun 17, 2010

I feel kind of sad around Mother's Day, because my mom passed away almost 16 years ago. As a child, though, I loved making gifts for my mother. I think kids should be encouraged to give their mothers homemade cards and gifts, rather than just buying something ready-made. This encourages them to put some thought into the process and to take pride in being creative.

Oh, and your little boy will be happy to know that there IS a Children's Day in dozens of countries all over the world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children%27s_Day Maybe you can celebrate by taking him someplace special, and by making a donation of food, clothes, or money to a children's charity. :o)

11:56PM PDT on Jun 16, 2010

Mothers day isnt till later in the year for Australians (i think) but yeah, i should really be nicer to my mother, after all she did give birth to me and spoil me every day of my life and still does... so yes i do indulge her in the commercalised stuff but she apprecaites it because most of the time im still bitter towards her for seperating with my dad... any way enough about me, that was really interesting about the history of Mother's Day, i actually really enjoyed it :) Thank you so much for giving your time to tell us that.. i appreciate it :)

5:39PM PDT on Jun 3, 2010

My son calls me from the states or sends a card. My mother broke through the barrier to the other side. Interesting article. Reminds me of The Book of Negroes, an actual ships log of Africans sold in America. So many were sold away from their children. It must have been devastating, not knowing where their children were.

7:48AM PDT on Jun 1, 2010

Thanks for the info. especially the history of Mother' s day.

3:08PM PDT on May 28, 2010

Its too commercialised, like all other holidays (valentines!). Why should we focus all our efforts into one day of caring for mum/dad/being romantic? We should do these things all year round and give spur of the moment gifts, instead of "having" to do something on this day. It just makes it a chore. We should appreciate the people in our lives everyday instead of just on holidays

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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