While this post may be delayed and quite a few days after the nationally recognized ‘Mother’s Day’, I thought it still appropriate to reflect and write on what ‘Mother’s Day’ is. I searched the web for a quick history lesson on how this day began and Times Publishing Group recently released an article (http://www.tpgonlinedaily.com/mothers-day-century/) that notes the origins of this celebration dating back to ancient Roman and Greek times when the Greeks honored Rhea, the mother figure of their gods, and the Romans celebrated Cybele, the mother of their gods. For the U.S., our tradition started in the 19th century when Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist, feminist and author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, called for a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” to promote peace (https://www.rd.com/culture/history-of-mothers-day/); Ann Jarvis, in the 19th century, called for a “Mother’s Friendship Day” to “promote a mother-encouraged reconciliation between union and confederate soldiers”. Our current annual tradition originated in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed and established it as an official day to recognize our mothers.
The term “mother” can be found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a noun, verb, and adjective. Below are just a few definitions of each use of the word..
Noun: (1) “Maternal tenderness or affection”; (2) “something that is an extreme or ultimate example of its kind especially in terms of scale”
Verb: (1) “to care for or protect like a mother”
Adjective: (1) “of, relating to, or being a mother”; (2) “acting as or providing parental stock”
Initially, I was under the impression that Mother’s Day was another hallmark-created holiday, when in fact there are deeper roots to its beginnings that extend past the commercialized holiday we celebrate today. As with almost all holidays, nationally recognized days, and even personal celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries, we have commercialized them so much that we often lose focus of what (or who) we’re actually celebrating – the real meaning, the person, the moments, the memories, the love. We (myself included) get caught up in finding and purchasing the perfect gift, the most suitable hallmark card for the occasion, the best place to celebrate, the people to invite to the holiday/celebration; we worry about the materialistic things, we stress, we quickly and easily find ourselves in the middle of arguments with friends and family members. Instead of all this, we need to step back, reevaluate, refocus, and take a moment to remember what and who we are celebrating and treat the situation as it properly deserves. I’m not saying that we don’t always do this, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy gifts and cards, but I definitely think our tendencies become more about material items rather than putting our focus where it should be. I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t buy my mom anything this year. Not even a card. My money went toward purchasing groceries that would be used to cook her a meal. Now – side bar – I could probably make an entire post about money and spending, but that’s not my purpose here; I realize it’s inevitable to spend money during holidays and celebrations. Take what I did for example, I didn’t buy a gift, but I had to put out money for food, but just stay with me and don’t become distracted as this is not my main reason for writing this post.
Keeping in mind the origins of Mother’s Day, the use of the word “mother” in the dictionary, and adding in our own experiences and views of motherhood, we can properly reflect on and cherish the women in our lives and surrounding us that embody the woman celebrated every May. Technically, these women should be recognized and celebrated every day if you ask me. Not all women are the same, act the same, and not all mothers have the same tendencies and characteristics, so Mother’s Day can be viewed and celebrated differently as we’re all unique and have our own life experiences; however, women were created, to their core, with certain intuitions and character traits that are amplified in certain parts of their life, specifically motherhood. Side bar-again, I do realize that not all women are the same and may never know or show the same traits as other women and mothers. “Motherhood”, in the dictionary, is “the state of being a mother”. Motherhood doesn’t mean only being a mother through having your own biological child. If you are a woman who fosters, adopts, or spends any time where you are act in a parental/caregiver state (whether temporarily or permanently), you are in a motherly state. These women have a very important responsibility (this responsibility isn’t for all women, and that’s perfectly okay!) so let’s salute them! Let’s love them! Let’s lift them up and give them the recognition they deserve!
For me, Mother’s Day is when I get to honor Penelope Ann Ryhal as the mother to me and my two older brothers, as well as appreciate and love the example she has set for me specifically as the daughter, in what it means to be a mother, to learn and hopefully emulate one day in my life. While being thankful for her example of motherhood and that aspect of her life, I also get to cherish the example she sets as a woman, since you can’t have one without the other. My mom is my best friend. She was my first best friend and always will be. She will always know me , what I’m capable of, when I’m not okay, the way I act, and will always be there for me no matter what. I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home where my parents’ faith and love of Christ was taught to me, was shown to me through the example of their speech, actions, decision, and wisdom (individually and as one). So not only do I have the greatest example of motherhood in my life through my mom, it’s sweetened even more because of her love for the Lord and her godly example for me. Mom, thank you for loving me through every moment of my life, through the failures, mistakes, success, joys, laughter, and tears. Thank you for your constant encouragement and wisdom. You continue to show me unconditional love; you continue to teach me what unconditional love looks like and how to give it to others. Your motherly example – in every way, through the discipline, correction, nurturing, holding hands, comfort, affection, and so much more – is treasured in my heart and soul so that I may share it in the proper time. Now as Jarrod and Justin have become parents, I get to see you smile and love even more on your grandchildren; I know Jarrod and Justin feel the same way I do and I get the privilege to see them carry out the example you have set for us as a parent in their own lives now over their little ones. To see you as a grandma makes my heart cry out with joy; it’s full for you in this new stage of life. The same motherly love you bestow on me and my brothers is now being poured over the lives of the next generation of Ryhal’s 🙂 One day, I pray, Lord willing, you will be with me as I step into motherhood and can make you proud; to look to you for advice, to look back at your example, to pull your love in and share it with my child (or children). You are an amazing woman and mother and I love you. Thank you.
Before I close out the post, I want to take a moment to not forget a few other people. I want to remember, pray for, and give hope and words of love and encouragement to a certain group of both men and women: First, as a woman who desires to be a mother one day, I know what it’s like every Mother’s Day to see the social media posts, to see the baby and family pictures, and while being happy for all you mothers out there being celebrated, it’s often difficult as it is a reminder at the same time that someone like me who desires a family does not have it yet and is unsure if or when it will happen. Sometimes the reminder brings tears and if you are reading this and know how I feel, I want to encourage you to not despair. Continue to learn and to grow so that when the time comes for you to be a mother, you are ready! Continue to work on yourself and take lessons from the women and mothers surrounding you so that one day your son or daughter will know and feel the love you’ve waited and stored up to give them! It will be a beautiful day and worth all of the waiting and tears; I have hope. Second, for the men and women who have lost a mother or maybe never knew their mother – you are not forgotten and I pray for you. Mother’s Day can be a difficult time and reminder for you as well. I pray that you will have peace and comfort in these moments. May you never lose memory and sight of the mother you once had and keep her in your heart always and may those who might not have known their mother, I hope you honor and thank the woman or women who might’ve stepped in and been there for you as an example, providing love and support. Lastly, to the mothers who have lost a child; I pray for comfort for you as well. Let us not forget these women and let us remind them that they are loved still! Let us lift them up!
Let this always serve as a celebration of the miracle you are. To be born of you has been my sweetest blessing and in your heart I find the reflection of everything I admire most in me. Through your loving guidance I have learned the courage to be just as I am, the strength to endure any challenge of hardship, and the wisdom to know when to be gentle and when to be strong. You are my sanctuary, the place where I am most understood. Even in silence, you hear me speak. Even at my lowest, you know where to find the light. You have inspired me to reach for my truest self, to strive for my dreams and never settle for less than I deserve. You have gifted me not only with life, but one worth living, and so you will always hold the highest place in my heart.”-Beau Taplin