Every day is the right day for honoring and celebrating mothers, as well as the rest of the supportive women in our lives.
That said, Mother’s Day is yet another example of a social movement being co-opted and corporatized in the US.
In fact, Americans will spend upwards of $31.7 billion on Mother’s Day this year, an amount which has gone up nearly every year since 2012.
Corporations like Ulta Beauty recognize how they can further profit from Mother’s Day by including all women in their marketing scheme. As one of its representatives put it, “Connection with other women transcends demographics and has become a universal theme that translates into shopping and gifting.”
But social activism and movement building fed the roots of Mother’s Day.
In 1858, Ann Jarvis created a “Mother’s Work Day,” as a day for mothers to work for better cleanliness and health, and for peace between mothers on both sides of the Civil War.
After the deaths of her two children, Jarvis reached out to physicians in her Appalachian coal community to learn how to prevent disease. She established Mother's Work Day to share what she learned, then those mothers taught others... ultimately improving the health of many families.
Taking inspiration from Jarvis’ activism, abolitionist Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Mother's Day Proclamation” calling mothers to leave their homes for one day a year to work for peace in their communities, an end to war, and equality for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender or nationality.
After Ann’s death, her daughter Anna Jarvis, picked up the mantel to push for the establishment of an official Mother’s Day, but she was disgusted by what she saw it become, another holiday marked by politicization, frivolous consumerism and price gouging.
“What will YOU do to rout charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites,” Jarvis asked in a 1920 press release, “that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations?” Five years later, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention that was scalping high-priced carnations in the name of Mother’s Day.
Spend time honoring and celebrating your mother, and heed Howe’s call “Arise then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, … From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own.”
Here are a couple of actions worthy of your consideration:
~~ Mother’s Day Strike 2022 - WE WILL NOT GO BACK! https://www.mothersdaystrike.com/
~~ Mama’s Bail Out Day: Campaign to bail out as many mothers as possible for Mother’s Day. https://www.nationalbailout.org/