Anna Jarvis was not a mother herself but pioneered the annual public celebration of Mother’s Day in the US in the early 1900′s. This curios fact, that she wasn’t a mother yet championed motherhood so much made me wonder more deeply about the universality of the meanings of Motherhood itself.
Though Anna had no children of her own, she must have seen the importance to society of the attributes of Motherhood very clearly in the work of her own mother whose Mothers’ Day Work Clubs had a mission to improve health and sanitary conditions for women in American cities in the late 1800′s. Showing the magnanimity mothers show, her women cared for the wounded during the American Civil War, making no distinction between Union and Confederate soldiers.
Public Recognition of Mothers
After her mother’s death, Anna campaigned doggedly for years for a Mother’s Day, in the end getting it publicly recognised and celebrated annually from 1914.
This put Mother’s Day not many clicks below Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and Easter in a small exclusive company of annual public celebrations and feast days. It’s aligned in English and Irish historico-religious tradition to the mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ the Immaculate conception. Mother’s Day is also associated with the annual return of parishioners to the “Mother Church”. Mothers and daughters would come together at those gatherings and gifts would be given.
When I think of the amazing manifestations of motherhood that I’ve personally seen and experienced, I can see why it enjoys a pretty high estate in the public consciousness. Anna it seems was only too right about Motherhood being well worthy of public celebration. Examples of amazing feats of heroic motherhood can really be examples to us all, whether we ourselves are mothers or not. Mothers can even be the greatest allies of other mothers as I experienced to my benefit once when I was on a family holiday in Turkey.
My husband and children and I were visiting the pools at Pamukkale, a remote mountain spa where cliffs are formed into massive basin-shaped pools. White stalactites “drip” over their sides forming the imposing rims created over millenia by 35 degree calceous water rising from the ground and tumbling constantly down the mountain side.
It’s where ancient Hellenic aristocracy used to resort to take the waters. They bathed in the huge pools of natural hot spring water and what they believed was the youth-giving pure white mineral silt that thickly lines them.
As I bathed there, the ever vigilant mother in me kept all the children well inside the corner of my eye, even as I tried to relax. They slowly strayed in the huge shallow pools into the middle distance. I was tracking three of them playing together when, eagle eyed, I vaguely noticed they were starting to throw handfuls of the silt at each other.
The heroic feats of motherhood can be examples to us all
I quickly moved closer before they disturbed the tranquilly of the place and the peace of the other bathers. I was about to restore order when I realised there was an emergency afoot. My daughter had a gotten a lot of the silt impacted behind her eye and it was beginning to bulge at an alarming speed. Also she was virtually screaming with fright at the rasping pain as the small grains abraded her whole eyeball and socket. It was horribly red and watering terribly.
She simply couldn’t get the stuff out and was frantically rubbing her eye. Jugs of clear water were washed into her eye as gently as possible but she just got more and more distressed. Nothing worked, no matter what I tried and I became very aware that there was no 999 to call.
Normally good in a crisis, for once I was out of my depth. I was just beginning to panic and in my mind started to pray for help when a Russian lady gently tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and she calmly indicated she would like to help. Making a quick, intuitive decision I said “Yes” and stepped aside.
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