Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 11, and happens to be the 100th anniversary of the holiday being celebrated nationwide.
Efforts to create a holiday honoring mothers date back to the 1870s, and the current incarnation dates back to Anna Jarvis’ efforts 1908. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the day an official national holiday.
Nowadays, Mother’s Day is the busiest holiday for florists, outpacing even Valentine’s Day.
For many American families, mothers are the foundation of the family unit. According to numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, 28 percent of families are single-parent households, with nearly 75 percent of those led by a single mother. In total, 24 percent of American children lived with only their mothers in 2012.
Mothers are the paramount figures in our lives, the ones whose homes we return to for holidays. For many of us, “home” is not our birthplace nor the town we went to college or graduated from high school, but where we grew up with our mothers and where they still live.
Even as we grow up, our mothers still have considerable affect over us as adults. Presidents, kings, queens, emperors, dictators, generals and popes may have power over their nations and followers, but regardless of rank or uniform, they all answer to their mothers.
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins best summed up the dichotomy between parent and child in his 2005 poem “The Lanyard.”
Speaking as a boy, Collins points out that his mother gave him life, a breathing body and a beating heart, strong legs, bones and teeth, nursed him while sick, taught him to walk and swim, served thousands of meals, provided clothing and a good education — while he, at summer camp, made her a lanyard, an item about whose purpose he had no idea.
The poet’s final stanza sums up the way we children thank our mothers:
“And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift — not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove out of boredom
would be enough to make us even.”
I hope all my little gifts somehow make me even with my mother.
Happy Mother’s Day.