Meredith Browand

Reclaiming Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day 2019 marks the 111th anniversary of Anna Jarvis creating the holiday to honor her own mother and acknowledge the profound role of mothers in our culture. 

The first Mother’s Day was celebrated May 10, 1908 at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church and featured 500 white carnations, enough for everyone in attendance, as a way to honor mothers. The holiday was established as a national holiday by Congress in 1914 and companies began the work of institutionalizing Mother’s Day as a commercial opportunity. 

This commercialization of the celebration of mothers ultimately made Jarvis regret the holiday she worked to create. She declared in a 1920 press release that the companies profiting from the commercialization of Mother’s Day to be “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers, and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.”

There’s no denying that Mother’s Day remains a highly commercialized holiday: over 113 million cards are exchanged annually and it is second only to Christmas for gift giving. Cards and gifts are great ways to celebrate the holiday but we shouldn’t limit ourselves in the ways we honor mothers. Perhaps 2019 is the year that we all discover new ways to celebrate Mother’s Day that both honor Anna Jarvis’s original intentions and lift up mothers in our community.

Celebrate a single mom Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for single moms that don’t have a spouse or significant other to spearhead the celebration. A gift card to a local restaurant, a bouquet of flowers, or an invitation to your family’s Mother’s Day meal are all ways to celebrate a single mom and the mothering that she undertakes alone. 

Support an organization that serves mothers There are many organizations in our local community that support and serve mothers in a variety of ways including support groups for new moms, domestic violence shelters and nutrition assistance. A financial donation or the commitment of your time to one of these organizations can help further the mission of serving mothers and honoring their work. 

Advocate for a cause that impacts mothers Mothers in our community are significantly affected by issues such as the gender wage gap, lack of affordable childcare and the rising cost of healthcare. Choosing to advocate for an issue that affects mothers is one way to celebrate Mother’s Day that will have an impact on our entire community. 

Do something for Mother Earth This Mother’s Day let’s not forget Mother Earth and the role her natural beauty and resources play in our lives. The Key Peninsula is home to beautiful beaches, abundant woodlands, and a wide variety of animal species. We can help preserve our natural world through simple acts such as collecting litter we see on the beaches, planting a tree, or reducing overall energy usage at home. 

Meredith Browand is a mother and an activist who lives in Purdy. She gave birth to her third child in March.

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