Archive for Thursday, May 13, 2010

In gratitude of moms

May 13, 2010

Last Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day, which is probably the biggest secular family holiday of the year. It is a time when families get together to honor moms and grandmoms with gifts and good food.

Many churches have special services to recognize mothers, and restaurants are always jammed on Mother’s Day. In the two weeks or so leading up to Mother’s Day, there are lots and lots of advertisements featuring special gifts. Mother’s Day is a major event for retailers who are trying to boost sales after Easter and before summer clearances.

Many countries observe the event. In England it is called “mothering day.” The earliest observances to honor mothers date to Rome 250 years prior to the birth of Christ. The first official observance in the United States was on May 10, 1908, in Philadelphia and was an idea put forward by Anna Jarvis. I doubt that she would believe how much her idea has grown in the past century.

I admit that when I was young, it was always a sad time for me. My mother died in 1948, when I was 11, and Mother’s Day always brought sad memories. I really have wondered how my life would have been different if she had been in good health and had lived. I remember her as a person who always looked on the bright side no matter how tough things were.

Mothers have faced special challenges, which have changed over the years but remain daunting.

I have read a couple of books about life in Victorian England, and unless you were wealthy, times were always tough. For mothers who weren’t from wealthy backgrounds, raising children was quite stressful. The main challenge for moms in that era was keeping their children alive and surviving.

Life wasn’t a whole lot different for moms in the United States in that same time frame. The big cities had poor living conditions, bad sanitation and disease. Just surviving was the main goal.

Things weren’t any better on the frontier. Rural Kansas in the 1870s was dangerous. I had the opportunity to do a series of articles 50 years ago based on a diary by a 16-year-old mother living on the plains. She said she was always scared.

While much has changed, the modern mother faces a hectic and challenging life. Now, a majority of young mothers work full-time outside the home. They have to handle household duties including cooking and cleaning while racing around town getting kids to ball practice, games, dancing lessons and much, much more. Well, yes, there is also the matter of making sure homework is done, too. No, it is not easy being a modern mom.

However, mothers have always been willing to sacrifice for their children. Jean fondly remembers her mother juggling a busy schedule of helping with wheat harvest in June and finding time to get her to swimming lessons, Bible school and other valuable activities on time. I’m sure that it took a tremendous amount of work on her part, but she was willing to do it to see that her children had valuable experiences.

I couldn’t estimate the amount of hours that Jean put in creating and sewing clothes for our daughters or the time she spent making sure they were prepared for school. She headed the Parent Teacher’s Association and was a Camp Fire and Girl Scout leader, too. She was an excellent role model for her daughters, and I’m proud of our daughters who are continuing the long line of great moms.

I sincerely hope you had a great Mother’s Day celebration and that you were able to tell your mother how much you appreciated the sacrifices that she made for you. I paused to remember my mother and how much she would have enjoyed knowing her daughter-in-law and grandchildren. You might want to make every day a Mother’s Day by expressing your appreciation and not waiting for a designated day next year.

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