Every May we set aside a special day to honor mothers. For many, Mother’s Day is a day filled with flowers, cards, and special brunches out with their families. And yet, this day can be painful for a mother who is grieving the loss of her child. Every year in the United States there are approximately 2 million women who experience pregnancy losses due to miscarriage or stillbirth. Nearly 28,000 infants will die before their first birthday. And approx 14, 500 children will die before their 14th birthday, another 33,000 before their 24th birthday. These are sobering statistics.
A child without a mother is called an orphan, but our society has no word to describe a mother without her child. Often these mothers are forgotten on Mother’s Day, especially if it was their only child that died. Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of what they are missing. It can cause them to question- ‘Are they mothers if their children are not with them?’
It is often assumed Mother’s Day was a holiday invented by the card companies as a stroke of marketing brilliance to sell more cards. And yet it started as so much more. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe (author of the poem The Battle Hymn of the Republic) was distressed by the devastating effects of the Civil War, and called for a formal recognition of a Mother’s Day for Peace. This crusade was taken up by Anna Jarvis, whos mother had been working to improve sanitation through what she called Mother’s Work Days. Later, the first Mother’s Day was celebrated in 1907 as a ‘memorial day for women’ in West Virginia. The custom eventually spread to 45 states, and the first national Mother’s Day was finally declared in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson.
It is fitting that on this day that begun with mother’s mourning their sons we remember ALL mothers- those that have their children with them and those that are missing their children. Happy Mother’s Day to all of us.