Mothers’ Day: Then and now

May 12, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

The second Sunday in May, is when we celebrate Mother’s Day. The beginnings of which, allegedly, can be traced back to pagan origins of the ancient Greeks. In Greek mythology, during the yearly spring festival, Rhea, who was the wife of Cronus, was attributed to being the mother figure of various gods and goddesses.

Centuries later, on May 12, 1907, Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia USA, held a memorial service at her late mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia USA to celebrate the wonderful work of her mother who was known for her establishment of organisations that promoted friendship and health of women.

Within five years virtually every state in the USA was observing the day and grew to include grandmothers and aunts etc who played a mothering role. Anna Jarvis apparently, spent the last years of her life trying to abolish the holiday, as she believed it had become over commercialised and failed to meet her initial belief of honouring and respecting the work and sacrifices of an individual, like her mother, and the many others like her.

The first recorded celebration of ‘Mother’s Day’ in Australia was held in 1910 and was mainly limited to church services mentioning and honouring the mothers’ of this great land. Mother’s Day progressed to a day that involved gift giving, in 1924. A Sydney woman Janet Heyden was inspired to collect charitable gifts for lonely, elderly mothers in hospitals, who had lost husbands and sons during WW1.

As children growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, we always had a small gift, usually handmade or purchased by dad, and a handmade card, decorated by my brothers and myself ready for mum when she was awake on her special day. A simple breakfast of toast and tea was delivered to her, in bed, on a tray with a flower or some sort of greenery collected from the garden, in a vase or glass. From memory, our mum was always very grateful for this special attention we bestowed upon her, even if it ended with the bed needing a change of sheets because of a miss judged landing, by one of us, as we plopped ourselves next to her to give her a hug and kiss.

After the celebration with mum, we all hopped into the car, or took the tram, to visit dad’s mother, grandma, for a morning tea with treats grandma had baked, in anticipation of our arrival. (Unfortunately, mum’s mother passed away well before we were born) Again, we had a handmade card and present. The morning was spent enjoying the company of these women and hopefully, them enjoying ours.

Now I am a mother and grandmother and the biggest thrill I get on Mother’s Day, is seeing my children, their partners, and my beautiful grandchildren. I don’t want expensive gifts or elaborate breakfasts, lunches or dinners planned for that day, just give me your time and expressions of love, (maybe a card with a winning lottery ticket enclosed).

My memories of children and grandchildren and the joy (and of course the heartache, pain and tears) will remain with me until the day I no longer inhabit this earthly place. There were times that being a mother was extreme, and I often wonder where I got the strength to continue…but seeing them sleeping did help!

I truly wish every mother, grandmother and caregiver, a happy Mother’s Day. Children remember it’s the little things that make a mum happy, a phone call, a chat, a flower picked from the garden, scraped burnt toast and cold tea (just try not to jump up onto the bed until all liquids have been consumed)

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