the origins of Mother’s Day go back to 1870 when Julia Ward Howe, in the wake of the American Civil War, made an appeal for women in the world to unite for global peace.
Howe believed that women have a responsibility to influence society, to create society, at a political level.
i believe that too.
i prefer this social justice intention to Mother’s Day over that of the practice of the modern event, created years later in 1908 by Anna Jarvis when she held a memorial service for her deceased mother and to honour all the mothers of her church.
i love the honouring of our mothers. it is important to do so in meaningful, ritualized ways, as we currently do on Mother’s Day.
but it is exciting to me to expand this honouring into the work of world peace.
when i was young, i wanted to save the world.
specifically, i wanted to stop world hunger. i wanted to stop wars. i wanted every child in the world to have peace and security and enough.
i wanted to single-handedly mother all the children who no longer had mothers. i fully expected that i could do so.
i held on to those personal expectations for a very long time. they shaped my formal education and my early career.
i have spent most of my adult life active in social causes and volunteering with organizations which kick dents into the status quo.
i have always felt strongly a personal responsibility to work for equality, justice, peace. i have always accepted this responsibility with awareness.
when i became pregnant in 1987 with sweet Jaz, i was working in a child welfare agency having just left a job working primarily with inner city families.
i was volunteering weekends in a street outreach program with adolescent prostitutes, sitting on a provincial task force on adolescent prostitution, active in a home birthing network, on the provincial steering committee for the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, a member of a Reproductive Rights and Technologies panel, attending peace marches and take back the night marches, violence against women vigils, and a multitude of important political rallies and actions.
i was engaged. active. passionate. filled.
my office partner at the child welfare agency assured me i would stop all this nonsense, these risky behaviours, when the baby arrived.
the birth of my first child was a clear catalyst for me to decisively and passionately accept a doctrine of radical personal responsibility.
the birth of my second child kept me on the path.
i have been privileged to parent, in one way or another, many wonderful beings. each of them has pressed upon me these same learnings.
if i don’t do my important work no one else will do it for me.
if i don’t take my actions, voice my opinions, make my requests, seek my changes, insist on accountability, live intentional ethics, embrace a moral compass, and work mindfully, then i cannot expect my children to honour me as their mother.
i want to model these values and hand along, to my daughters, the strength to grow into their own doctrines of radical personal responsibility.
i no longer want to save the world.
i let go of that a long time ago.
i don’t need to leave a legacy or be the subject of ritual honouring.
nor do i want that.
in fact, there is little i want and less that i need.
i simply live to be in service to others in ways congruent with the principles i hold close.
may the sparkle of peace settle over the earth.
may we all be free of pain and illness
may we dispel darkness and live in the bright light of compassion
may we all live in harmony and health
may we live mother’s day every day.