Mother's Day should not so much be about buying cards and gifts for mothers, as about paying forward the wisdom (or mother wit) we receive from mothers. To fully understand that invites us to explore two questions: (1) How do we define who is a mother? And (2) How can we identify what is true mother wisdom?
Mother's Day, as we know it, began as part of the peace movement in 1870, then known as Mother’s Peace Day Observance. Mother’s Day was established in response to ravages of Civil War impacting husbands, sons and daughters across Union and Confederacy states. Spearheaded by Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist, women's suffragist, and peace activist, the aim was national and global peace. Raising their children only to die in war was a deep and painful reproductive loss felt by hundreds of thousands of mothers. They were resolute to do whatever they could, appealing to the hearts and minds of political leaders. Since its powerful, transformative beginnings, Mother’s Day became sentimentalized so that the real issues of reproductive loss, peace, and justice could be moved to the back burner, and eventually moved out of the kitchen.
How do we define “mother”? The women who participated in the Mother’s Peace Day Observance were women who experienced a grieving a reproductive loss, not only for children they had birthed or raised, but for the nation. They were women, and men, who longed for their nation to be its best and brightest self. They were individuals who understood that the men on the battlefields and the women who brought supplies to the soldiers and who nursed the wounded and dying were all brothers and sisters, regardless of which flag they fought under. This understanding was their mother wit.
True mother wit can be recognized by the words and actions that are designed to uplift people, even those on the “other side.” Mother wit understands that peace must begin on the inside or there can be no peace in families, communities and nations. Mother wit understands that sometimes we must make life decisions that go against what others expect or approve of in order to have peace on the inside or to improve the quality of our lives.
For this Mother’s Day, I bless you with the mother wit reflected in the For this Mother’s Day, I bless you with the mother wit reflected in the Serenity Prayer written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr --
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
The path for each mother may be different. For some it is to raise children their conceive. For others to raise children they adopt. For still others, the path is to mentor. For others, the path is to let go of and bless the children they conceive. While each path is different, when a woman discerns which path is the right one for her, she is guided by mother wit. This is the path to inner peace.
May this day be Mother’s Inner-Peace Day for you.
When you read my blog posts, please send your comments and I will be glad to respond. Peace, CJ