On the 100th Anniversary of Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in spring… In the United States the celebration of Mother’s Day began in the early 20th century; it is not related to the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years. The modern American holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her beloved mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. It was officially declared a holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in his 1914 presidential proclamation and by the U.S. Congress in relevant related bills.
“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” …Abraham Lincoln
I would like to dedicate this piece to all the ‘other mom’s out there… the adoptive moms, the stepmoms, the foster moms, the grandmothers, the aunts, older sisters and the God-mothers who stepped in, stepped up to help and in many cases took over the role of ‘Mother’ for many many children, but are later far too often forgotten, neglected, taken for granted and even shunned when the absentee moms or their families suddenly step back into the children’s lives that they abandoned… After those heroes the adoptive moms, the stepmoms, the foster moms, the grandmothers, the aunts, the sisters and the God-mothers stepped in and did their jobs, gave their children more and very often loved their children more than they ever considered, wanted to give or had to give, they too often then swoop in play on the heartstrings of the children who felt abandoned and benefit from the love of the people who nurtured their children.
Anyone can be a Mother or Father… it is just a biological process. Not everyone can be a loving and nurturing Mom or Dad! We all have a birth or natural mom somewhere and more women than not are natural or birth mothers; most making the transition to be a loving ‘mom’, but it is not until you walk in the shoes of an adoptive mom, a stepmom, a foster moms, or a grandmother, aunt, older sister or God-mother who had to take on the full mother role for someone else that you can understand that true dynamic.
It is easy to step in later, when the work is done and the bonds are forged, to fulfill ones own needs at the expense of the emotional well-being of the children left behind and the women who gave their all, including their hearts to those children when it was needed most.
I am a daughter, a sister, a niece, was a very involved aunt and have had the unique privilege of being a mom… a stepmother to 3-children under 2-separate circumstances as well as being an adoptive mom. I worked for one of the top children’s facilities in the country and have seen it all… the kind of ugly that nobody wants to think about and a few miracles along the way. And I also have friends who are adoptive moms of kids that know and don’t know they are adopted, that are stepmoms under a myriad of circumstances, a few amazing foster parents, some family members who raised family members and some kids that came out of all those types of situations. And I know some birth family members and birth mothers who made all the wrong and unfair decisions over and over again as well as step-families who never got it. For me personally, It has been an honor, a source of endless frustration, the greatest joy in my life and the most heart-wrenching pain in my life to fill the various rolls of motherhood.
Here are few letters from daughters:
From ‘Annie’s Mailbox’:
To a one-in-a-million Mom, to you, dear lady, for all the dreams you dreamed for us. Not one of us became the ballerina or vocalist or pianist or doctor or lawyer you were hoping for. The boys didn’t become millionaires, and the girls didn’t learn to speak six languages. Instead we are the children who forgot to say “thank you” when it probably would have meant a lot to you. We are the ones who talked when we should have listened. We are the little tykes who woke you before dawn to serve you the breakfast-in-bed birthday special: burnt toast, weak tea, unscrambled eggs and half-raw bacon swimming in grease. We gathered around your bed and sang “Happy Birthday, Dear Mommy.” You pretended to be thrilled and tried your darnedest to eat the mess we brought to your bed.
Our childhood is over, and here are the “thank-yous,” many years overdue. Thank you for being there when we needed you. Thanks for being our tower of strength when you needed support yourself. Thank you for believing in us when we had trouble believing in ourselves. Thank you for saying what we needed to hear and for knowing when silence meant more than words. Your wisdom seemed to come from a place that none of us could ever figure out. Thank you, Mom, for allowing us to dream our own dreams, even though your dreams were more glamorous. And thank you, too, for never letting on when we disappointed you.
Most of all, Mom, thank you for giving us the room we needed to grow and the freedom to learn from our own mistakes. We hope we can do half as well with our kids. — YOUR LOVING CHILDREN
Sent directly to Ask Marion:
I was adopted, but never knew it, until by birth mother showed up at our doorstep. It was a closed adoption and I never had a clue. My adoptive parents and family were my family (still are) and I always felt like I was the luckiest kid there was, having such a great family and so many opportunities. There was nothing that my parents didn’t or wouldn’t do for me and with me, yet they were strict; they instilled all the important values in me.
My life was turned upside down and it took years to recover from the selfish disruption caused by my birth or so-called real mother. I was depressed for years and it almost destroyed my adoptive mom. I chose never to see my birth mother again after that visit, but life was never quite the same, never as good, never as normal. My adoptive parents and family are my family, my real parents, not the women who upended my life twice. I only hope that I did not inherit her selfishness! — YOUR LOVING REAL DAUGHTER IN NEW YORK
Every Mother’s Day, I think of how often the amazing love that can be conferred by stepmothers is ignored on this day. When I was very little, my biological mother passed away. A few years later, my father married a wonderful woman who helped raise me. People often asked me whether she was my real mom. I always answered “yes.” We shared real smiles, had real fights and have real memories. She also put forward an enormous effort to make sure I maintained the cherished relationship I had with my biological mother’s family.
These women are there, attending our games and dance recitals. They are there when we need a shoulder to cry on. And they are there to pick us up when we fall. They may not have given birth to us, but they are real mothers. — A REAL DAUGHTER IN NEBRASKA
Sent directly to Ask Marion:
My sister and I were in and out of group homes, with some incremental stops back with our parents, for years. The short times back home were always bittersweet. We knew they were temporary and even the short stays were like riding a roller coaster. Then came my foster mom… foster parents. They took my sister and I in and we have been part of their family every since and will be for the rest of our lives. They cared about us and we grew to love each other. We finally had a stable family; people we could depend on and a home. — GRATEFUL DAUGHTERS WHO LOVE YOU IN CALIFORNIA
Sent Directly to THITW:
My parents were teenagers when I was born. My grandmother was fun but, to be honest she and her husband were flakes. Ultimately I was adopted through a family adoption. The agreement was that it be a closed adoption; I was only 15-months old and apparently had no bonding with my birth mother who was not with my natural father. And from what I hear I spent a lot of time with the relatives that would be my mom and dad and, I never asked about my birth mother once after going to live with them as my permanent family. At age 19 the rug was pulled out from under me when an uncle under pressure from my birth mother and her father told me I was adopted, with no advance warning or preparation. I had led a storybook life, had everyone in my life as part of the family and, I had no inkling that I was adopted.
My birth mother and birth grandfather along with an idiot uncle destroyed my life. I went off the deep end, destroying my relationship with the parents who really loved me and It ultimately killed my adoptive mother due to a deep and prolonged depression. I was a fool and I would ask everyone who is lucky enough to have someone adopt your child and give you a second chance to start over to think twice about disrupting the lives of your child who has a good home and normal life as well as the life of the women (parents) who took on your responsibility, your place, and your job.
Ask yourself… why do you deserve to ruin your child’s life twice as well as the life of the women, the family, that gave both you and your child a fresh start, probably better than you ever could have, and destroy their home, their sanity and their family just to fill some hole or need within you. Haven’t they already given you enough? –FROM YOUR LOVING DAUGHTER WHO WILL ALWAYS BE SORRY FOR MY HESITATION! I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU DEARLY IN OKLAHOMA
Sent Directly to Ask Marion:
I want to thank my Aunt and Grandma who raised me, loved me and were always there for me. I never missed not having my mom; they filled every void. I DO miss that I never knew her since she died in child birth giving me life, for which I will be eternally grateful. –YOUR GIRL FOREVER IN IDAHO
So please… remember the moms… the women who raised you, who loved you and who were there for you. That is the true definition of a Mother… a Mom and Motherhood. Call them today and every Mother’s Day!