Every year around this time in May, I, like many of you, am thinking of how to honor my Mom for Mother’s Day. I know that trips to Hallmark and the florist always make it to the top of my “to do” list but it never seems like enough for the person who brought me into this world. Perhaps if she lived closer, I would take her out for brunch even if I have to wait two hours in line. Sadly, many of us miss the true essence of this special day because we are distracted by our conditioning of what Mother’s Day represents and what we are supposed “to do and buy”. We fail to realize that our behavior is dictated by the social norms influenced largely by the businesses which have commercialized this day for huge profits.
It wasn’t always this way. In 1908, Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother, a Sunday school teacher and caregiver for wounded soldiers during the Civil War, so she created the first Mother’s Day events. After tireless campaigning for the holiday to become official, Congress finally recognized it in 1914. The floral and greeting card industries immediately took notice and pounced on the commercial possibilities of this holiday. Anna Jarvis was so disgusted by the commercialism that she began urging people to stop buying cards and flowers for their mothers. She wrote in a press release that florists and greeting card companies were “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.” She went door-to-door collecting petitions to rescind Mother’s Day and spent the rest of her life trying to abolish the holiday she founded.
This year’s anticipated Mother’s Day spending of $25 billion is up from last year’s $23.1 billion. The average gifts this year will cost $196, compared to $180 in 2018. The retail association estimates 35% of adults celebrating Mother’s Day will buy their moms jewelry for the holiday. Although jewelry is the fifth most popular Mother’s Day gift category (after cards, flowers, gift cards, and clothing/accessories), it has the greatest total spending estimate and is expected to generate $5.2 billion in sales. Anna Jarvis’s realization that her intention underlying Mother’s Day was quickly being perverted into a self-serving feast for the business world led her to try to undo her creation and preserve the sacredness of an auspicious occasion.
Being a mother may just be the world’s most challenging job. Do you think that you can put a price on being a mother? According to Salary.com, try $143,102 annually. Mom’s wear so many different hats. The traditional mom jobs consists of the following: housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, facilities manager, computer operator, psychologist, janitor, van driver, laundry machine operator, chief executive officer, bookkeeper, event planner, general maintenance worker, groundskeepers, interior design, logistics analyst, nutritionist, plumber and staff nurse. The list for modern mom jobs is even longer: It includes the list above plus — buyer, athletic trainer, photographer, social media marketing manager, academic advisor, tailor, recreational therapist, coach, tax accountant, judge, public school teacher, teacher vocational, education.
Before you head out to the florist, card shop or to make those brunch reservations, remember to identify, recognize and acknowledge your mother’s contributions to your life. Have a conversation with your Mom about what she would like to do and how she would like to be honored. Bring the essence of love, respect, appreciation, reverence, acceptance, forgiveness, and acknowledgement back to this special occasion. If you are a mother, help to deepen the conversation about what Mother’s Day means to you and help to shape how it is celebrated. If flowers, card and a delicious brunch are still part of the plan, enjoy it. However, do not end it there as you have so much more to experience, honor and celebrate!
Happy Mother’s Day!