The mother of Mother’s Day

I was up late last night, pondering the meaning of Mother’s Day.

I learned this, from National Geographic:

It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women’s organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

In the postwar years Jarvis and other women organized Mother’s Friendship Day picnics and other events as pacifist strategies to unite former foes. … Jarvis initiated a Mother’s Friendship Day for Union and Confederate loyalists across her state.

Maybe next year we can have an International Mother’s Friendship Day, and the mothers of all nationalities of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan can meet each other. The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs could sponsor this as one of their “people to people” efforts.

Maybe we could also honor the other women who will grieve every Mother’s Day for the rest of their lives.

About 10,000 people a year are killed in the U.S. by drunk driving – someone dies every 53 minutes at the hands of a drunk driver. About 200 of those killed are children 14 and under. That’s a lot of grieving mothers.

And then there are the mothers who never saw their children again because they made the ultimate gift of selfless love.

I am thinking about Tom’s birth mother and several other women I know who made the difficult decision – usually under great duress – to give them up for adoption.

Nowadays there’s no longer any social stigma to being an unmarried mother, and the percentage of women who give their children up for adoption has dropped dramatically.

Of the women who give birth each year, almost 36 percent of them are unmarried, according to the latest Census statistics. That’s almost 1.5 million children every year starting life with just Mom.

Almost 10 percent of American households – more than 11 million households – are headed by a single parent.

About 2.7 million of those households have a Dad, and not a Mom.

Another 2.7 million households with children are headed by grandparents who are responsible for those grandkids.

Motherhood is not what it was 100 years ago.

What would Ann Reeves Jarvis do?

Hers are the eyes in the featured image above (derived from a Bettman / Corbis photo).

Today’s penny is a 2007 – the first year that more than a third of American women giving birth were unmarried.