Today, we celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States. This day honoring mothers was the brainchild of Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century.
“The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. She then began a campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States. Although she was successful in 1914, she was already disappointed with its commercialization by the 1920s. Jarvis' holiday was adopted by other countries and it is now celebrated all over the world. In this tradition, each person offers a gift, card, or remembrance toward their mothers, grandmothers, and/ or maternal figure on mother's day.”
“Various observances honoring mothers existed in America during the 1870s and the 1880s, but these never had resonance beyond the local level. Jarvis never mentioned Julia Ward Howe's attempts in the 1870s to establish a "Mother's Day for Peace", nor any connection to the Protestant school celebrations that included "Children's Day" amongst others. Neither did she mention the traditional festival of Mothering Sunday, but always said that the creation was hers alone.”
“In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases "second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day", and created the Mother's Day International Association. She specifically noted that "Mother's" should "be a singular possessive, for each family to honor their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world." This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in the law making official the holiday in the United States, by the U.S. Congress in relevant bills, and by various U.S. presidents in their proclamations concerning Mother's Day. However, "Mothers' Day" (plural possessive) or "Mothers Day" (plural non-possessive) are also sometimes seen.”
It is well and good that we should honor mothers on this day. Ever since mankind’s fall into sin in the garden, mothers everywhere have given birth to their children in the tremendous pain of childbirth (for a natural delivery, at least, it is very painful -- at least, that is what I gathered from watching my wife deliver all four of our children). But even without the pain that comes with the delivery, there are all sorts of discomforts that women go through during the 9 months of pregnancy. Yet, if you ask most mothers, they are glad for what they went through because there is nothing more beautiful or miraculous than the bringing of a new human life into this world. I was in the delivery room for the births of all four of my children, and I can tell you that it was a very incredible experience that even brought tears to my eyes upon seeing my beautiful children for the first time. But even if the father in the home is well engaged as I am, children still need a mother. There are so many things that a woman brings to the home that are essential to the happiness of everyone in the home.
Women tend to be more nurturing and emotionally connected to their children than the fathers typically are. And it is this nurturing and emotional connection that are essential for early development and for mental and physical health. There was a famous study done by Harry Frederick Harlow (1905-1981) in which young rhesus monkeys were put in various situations with and without an artificial mother figure. The reason he did the experiments is that there was a rampant pop psychology belief in the mid-20th century in which people thought that the mother’s only contribution was to provide nourishment and that there was nothing else necessary that the mother provide. This strange belief led to “sterile, contactless nurseries across the country.” But through Harlow’s experiments and the research and writing of John Bowlby, it was proven that the mother-child relationship is much deeper than mere physical necessity. Based on their studies, these men proved that “’contact comfort’ was essential to the psychological development and health of infant monkeys and children.”
There is something special about the bond between mother and child that transcends mere physical nurturing needs. There is something emotional and spiritual in that connection.
I pray that you would all find time to honor all mothers today and thank God for this special bond that is necessary for all of us growing up and even many decades after reaching adulthood.