Deconstructing Mother Day

My respect to women and girls everywhere who make it through Mother Day. A calendar day for courage. Not my point to go there in this essay. My point is let’s get back to the point of Mother Day.

A brief history of ancient times. The Greeks and Romans had cults to celebrate mothers.

A brief history of Mother Day in the last 150 years. Mother Day was intended as a tribute to our individual mother. In a country notorious for desecrating the English language, with the rare placement of a grammatically correct apostrophe, the day became a public commodity. Anna Jarvis is credited with developing the modern Mother Day, however, her own mother Ann Reeves Jarvis had a far more interesting and socially pertinent concept in mind.

Ann Reeves Jarvis was a peace activist who advocated for health and sanitation in the camps of both sides during the American Civil War. She formed in essence grief groups for mothers whose sons died in the war. The public service the women performed gradually evolved into an international peace movement. When men got wind of a growing threat to their favorite game of mayhem, they lobbied for a day to celebrate the women behind the “great men” of this nation. They adroitly returned the spotlight to themselves and their economic self-interest while subtly reminding women of their place. Anna Jarvis advocated for a Mother Day celebration upon the death of her mother Ann. Mother’s Day now extends to over 40 countries. Anna Jarvis was later arrested while protesting the commercialism of Mother Day. In 2019, In the United States, Mother’s Day was expected to gross 25 billion dollars. Billion. 5.something billion dollars in jewelry alone.

I appreciate when my children and friends acknowledge me. They are conscious individuals who don’t need a calendar reminder to be kind and considerate. Mother’s Day has been a can of worms for me since I was a child. I decided to study the history in an effort to reduce the dissonance. Instead, I’m flabbergasted to realize all of the angst and years of anxiety feeling beaten up by an arbitrary date were in reality wasted on an annual event solely intended to realize profits for retailers.

25 billion dollars a year is an astounding figure. What would that much money do for health care, education and poverty? Would people who had food and education be so willing to fall for the promotion of aggression and violence? When people have a safety net of health care they have the emotional and physical strength to look outside of themselves and contribute to easing social ills. And on and on. I’m stating the obvious. The only thing I know for sure is as women, we are better than letting ourselves be used one more time and one more way to make a profit.

We have a year to ponder and decide what we are going to do as individuals to return to the original intention of Mother Day. While acknowledging mother and her contributions, is it possible to simultaneously promote peace? Resolve griefs. Serve others. Donate our segment of the 25 billion to an ethical cause? If we spend the day as intended will we ease our own issues? Of course, this might require investment of self instead of a credit card swipe to assuage our conscience. You’ll have your own ideas if you think about it. What if we take back our power, step out from behind the shoulders of the historical menfolk and make this day a contribution?

An extra hour...

An old pencil drawing from the dark ages… on BFK in a triangle sketchbook I made.

An old pencil drawing from the dark ages… on BFK in a triangle sketchbook I made.

Palmer, Alaska has a current population around 7,000 ish so imagine how modest the population was in the dark ages when I was young. The Dark Ages used to be the ten centuries prior to the Renaissance. Now the Dark Ages is reclassified as anything before Apple. Palmer is located in the Matanuska-Susitna valley, the Tigris and Euphrates of The Last Frontier. The 43 mile drive from Palmer to Anchorage on Highway 1 is about 45 minutes on a good day. Before Sam Hill’s revolutionary vision of paved roads made it to the Far North, the trek between Palmer and Anchorage seemed interminable. Of course, it was Much Longer the reverse direction.

Now, Highway 1 runs north and south while the moose still run east and west. The ineffective merger creates confusion for moose and drivers alike. Add snow and it’s a 3-D, real time Dodgem. On any given day, part of the scenery is at least one car whose driver lost. Even in good weather, Alces Americanus may unexpectedly become a new hood ornament.

Ted Pyrah commuted almost three decades from Palmer to teach in the Culinary Department at University of Alaska at Anchorage - in addition to running a farm, now the largest U-Pick in the Mat-Su valley. In a passing comment about his morning, Ted shared one idea that’s stuck with me and changed how I view personal time and contribution. Thank you, Ted.

He told me he built in an hour every day specifically to be available to help people in trouble along the road during his drive to or from work. He said if he didn’t need the time he had a whole unplanned hour available every day.

People need help at the most inconvenient times. If we’ve allotted time to help into our schedule, we have the time available. Yes, sometimes the incident doesn’t fit the agenda, however, it all works out. We really do have all the time we need.

Footnote: On a serious note, Moose are one of the most dangerous animals on the planet and may cause serious injury or death in altercations or collisions. Moose kills are given to the first-up organization or individual on a roster to harvest the meat. Alaska is not keeping up with the rest of the world by installing animal overpasses. Overpasses attempt to alleviate human and animal suffering, however, it hasn’t yet been determined who will teach moose to use them. The animals were here first.

Good thoughts on a tough subject...

Sarah Moon is an educator and digital communications professional I respect. Recently, she wrote about the difficulty of dealing with plagiarism and gave some tips and motivation for handing this issue and I like what she has to say:

No one has a right to steal from you.

Thieves are not entitled to be treated graciously.

Plagiarists do not have a right to explain themselves or claim that they’re somehow doing you a favor.

Your original work has value—don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Read the rest on Sarah’s blog.