According to the National Retail Federation, you and I will drop north of $20 billion on our mothers this week. That’s a lot of flowers, jewelry and spa gift certificates.
Don’t forget the card! Grab one that sings, smells or shares a very special message written by a perfect stranger in his bathrobe in Kansas City. So tender.
Maybe we’ll make a meal, vacuum, do some dishes or get the kids out of her hair for a few hours. You might even run loads of laundry. Unless, like me, you’ve been banned from the washer since the tragic Sharpie incident of 2010. We don’t speak of it.
I get it. We love her. Who doesn’t? You might have heard that my own marvelous Mom won the handmade hot-pot holder for National Mother of the Year so often they finally discontinued the award.
It’s natural, right? We just want to lavish her with things because she’s been lavishing us with love since our first breath. Still, I’m confident 300 feet of shelf-space at Wal-Mart isn’t quite what the mother of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, had in mind.
You remember Jarvis, don’t you? After her mother’s death in 1905, Jarvis wanted a day to honor the tremendous sacrifices of her mother and yours. This passion became a crusade, and, in May of 1908, the first celebration unfolded at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia.
Jarvis encouraged celebrating moms by wearing a white carnation and spending extra time at her side, perhaps by sitting next to her in church. It was a personal celebration of life between children and the one who made life possible in the first place.
The day was a hit, but Jarvis wasn’t done. Her tireless efforts culminated in 1914 with the official declaration of a national Mother’s Day by President Woodrow Wilson.
It was all downhill from there.
Before you could say “overpriced greeting cards,” the holiday slipped into commercialized quicksand. Jarvis was so disappointed with retailers distorting the day, she urged Americans to quit spending money on their Mother’s Day loot. After all that effort, Jarvis spent much of her adult life campaigning to undo the day.
Remarkably, when she died in 1948, she had completely disowned the holiday. If she’d had a Twitter account, it would have been @mothersdayremorse with the hashtag #thestruggleisreal
Thanks to my wife, I feel Anna’s pain.
A few years ago, Kodi lovingly suggested that while flowers were nice on Mother’s Day, and I was welcome to do the dishes, make dinner or buy a bracelet, she’d much rather I do those things on a random Tuesday.
The subtle message was simple and I began paying more attention. Women deserve this everyday, not just on a manufactured holiday meant to lure us to the seasonal gift aisle.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with doing something extra on the second Sunday in May. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful mother, mothers-in-law, sisters and a wife with more patience than Job. Not to mention the other strong women in my life who’ve impacted my journey in eternal ways. They deserve recognition.
But what good is it to spend $20 billion on Mother’s Day and drop our dirty clothes on the floor Monday morning? (Guilty.) Do we fawn over our moms on Sunday and then spend Monday evening watching SportsCenter while she does the dishes? (Awkward pause.) Do we call her on Mother’s Day and then not again until we need something? (Guilty of that, too.)
Women deserve to be held in heavenly esteem every day of the year. We shouldn’t honor and remember them just on a day in May anymore than we would honor and remember Christ simply on a single day in December.
Cherishing and respecting our mothers is an attitude, not just a behavior. Surely it’s a lot more than a $5 greeting card with a dancing monkey.
While we’re at it, the same should be true for our children. I’m more than happy to help them wrap another set of handmade salt and pepper shakers in the shape of potbelly pigs, and I know she would genuinely appreciate the gift, but I’d prefer they honor their mother by responding the first time she asks them to get in the bath, by cleaning up their room and by quickly loading up in the car when it’s time for church.
Want to demonstrate to the women in your world their true value this Sunday? Want them to truly grasp how grateful you are for their influence in your life? Do your part. And remember, they’re divine daughters of God. So, treat them that way — no matter what the calendar says.