Mother’s Day and Motherhood

Mother’s Day and Motherhood

In 16th century England, a celebration called “Mothering Sunday” was the time for a special dinner in honor of the mother of the children in the family. The American celebration began in 1905 when Anna Jarvis started a campaign for a national day to honor all mothers. On May 10, 1908, a Mother’s Day service was held at a church in Grafton, West Virginia, where the mother of Ms. Jarvis had taught. Then, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day

The Bible holds mothers in high esteem. Exodus 21:15-17 prescribes the death penalty for hitting or cursing one’s mother. In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, stoning is the penalty for refusing to obey one’s mother. Jesus demonstrated the importance of caring for mothers by assigning His mother’s care to John, one of the last things He did while hanging on the cross (John 19:25-27).  

Mother’s Day is essential because American society has denigrated the importance of being a mother. In American culture, success for women is measured by achieving status in the business or educational community. Caring for children is assigned to daycare centers, and having children is a minor part of a woman’s overall role.

Those of us who teach in the public schools have seen the consequences of denigrating motherhood. I was called to the principal’s office for a parent conference concerning a discipline problem with a young man in my class. His mother came into the conference wearing a business suit and serving notice that she needed to attend an important conference at work, so our meeting must be brief. When the mother heard about the problems some teachers were having with her son, she stood up and yelled at him. Before storming out of the room, she told him that she hated him and wished he had never been born. 

I saw tears rolling down the young man’s cheeks. He looked at me and said, “Why doesn’t she love me?” All I could say was that I wanted him to know I loved and cared for him and wanted to help him. I had a special relationship with this student, but his story is repeated over and over in America. Gangs exist and grow because they fill in the hole left in the lives of many young people who lack parental love and support.

There is nothing a woman can do with her life that is more important or meaningful than being a mother. I am glad Mother’s Day gives us at least one day a year when we honor the great women who are the builders of the fabric that makes our lives good and our country great.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Historical data from Old Farmer’s Almanac/