“The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom.” ~Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

Not Just For Kids

Mother's Day

"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." -Abraham Lincoln

"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it." -Mark Twain

Ode to a Homeschool Mom - Click Here!

Mommy, Mama, Mom, Ma, Maw, Mum, Mother…no matter what you call her, she is special! Mothers are our caregivers, cheerleaders, counselors, and so much more. On Mother's Day we should take time to honor our Mothers, without whom we would not be here. Be sure to do something special for your Mom this Mother's Day, and don't forget your Mother-in-law and Grandmothers, too.

The first Mother's Day can be traced back to spring celebrations held in ancient Greece honoring Rhea, Mother of the Gods. Early Christians celebrated the festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter) in honor of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ. As Christianity spread throughout Europe, the celebration began honoring the "Mother Church."

During the 1600's, England extended this "Mothering Sunday" celebration to include all mothers. In addition to church services in honor of the Virgin Mary, other important parts of the celebration consisted of gifts, flowers, and special Mothering Day cakes. At this time, many poor people in England worked as servants for the wealthy. Most servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers.

In the United States, a Mother's Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic). She wanted it to be a day dedicated to peace. Miss Howe organized annual Mother's Day meetings in Boston, Massachusetts.

While there were local celebrations honoring mothers in the late 1800's, Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia is credited with bringing about the national observance of Mother's Day. This schoolteacher, who would never become a mother herself, began her campaign to establish such a holiday as a remembrance of her mother, who died in 1905 and who had, in the late 19th century, tried to establish "Mother's Friendship Days" as a way to heal the scars of the Civil War. In honor of her mother, Miss Jarvis wanted to set aside a day to honor all mothers, living and dead.

In 1907, Miss Jarvis persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother's day on the second anniversary of her mother's death, the second Sunday of May. By the next year Mother's Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia, where Miss Jarvis lived.

Miss Jarvis and her supporters wrote to ministers, businessman, and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother's Day. In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to officially recognize Mother's Day. By 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state. In 1912, the Mother's Day International Association was incorporated for the purpose of promoting the day and its observance. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the second Sunday in May.

Ironically, after all her efforts, Anna Jarvis ended up growing bitter over what she perceived as the corruption of the holiday she had created. She wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit. She was so enraged by the commercialization of the holiday that she filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother's Day festival and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a mothers' convention. By the time she died in 1948 at age 84, Jarvis had spent her entire fortune on her effort to stop the commercialization of the holiday she had founded. Shortly before her death, Jarvis told a reporter that she was sorry she had ever started Mother's Day. She spoke these words in a nursing home where every Mother's Day her room had been filled with cards from all over the world.

Approximately fifty countries around the world honor mothers with a special day. Not all nations celebrate it on the same day, but some such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Belgium, and the United States celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May.

Proverbs 31: God's Instructions For Mothers

This Biblical Proverb describes an ideal wife and mother. It shows that women are intelligent, creative, and capable of anything, while it emphasizes that motherhood is a special calling. A wife should love, honor, and respect her husband. A mother should nurture her children with the responsibility of shaping and molding those children who will one day lead the community and the nation. She should be a disciplined and industrious keeper of the home, creating a warm and loving environment for family and friends. She should contribute to the financial well-being of her household, use her time wisely, and be willing to help others. The Proverb reads as follows:

"Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts in her….She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms….She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hand to the needy….She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing…She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.' Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates."

Ode to a Homeschool Mom - Click Here!

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Rather than buying a stereotypical Mother's Day gift, think about what your mother/wife really likes. Not all women want candy or flowers. A gift from the heart means the most, because Mom will appreciate the thought behind it more than how much you spent. Moms tend to love anything their children make for them. Also, one of the best things you can do for your mother is share your time and interests with her.

Here are some traditional as well as creative Mother's Day gift ideas:

Candy, flowers, perfume, facial cream, hand lotion, fancy soap, bath beads, aromatherapy, herbal tea, gourmet food basket, houseplant, jewelry, stationery, a scrapbook or photo album, a framed family photo, a music box, a collectible figurine, an inspirational book, a CD of her favorite music, a hug, a loving note attached to the fridge with a decorative magnet, a phone card, gift certificate, movie/play/concert tickets, breakfast in bed, Sunday brunch, dinner at a nice restaurant, babysitting, maid service, a day off, a quiet afternoon while dad takes the kids to the park, a night out on the town, a bed-and-breakfast weekend, handmade drawing or card, a handwritten poem, a "Best Mom" award certificate, a homemade booklet with coupons that mom can redeem for your services ("I will… Clean My Room, Dust the Shelves, Wash the Dishes, Set the Table, Take Out the Trash, Vacuum the Rug, Water the Plants, Watch the Baby," etc.)

Recommended Books

A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams. (A young girl and her waitress mother save up all of their spare coins in a big glass jar to buy a much-needed easy chair.)

A Mother for Choco, by Keiko Kusza. (A wise, caring bear adopts a motherless little bird)

Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman. (The classic story of a baby bird that falls from its nest and sets out to find its mother. This was one of my favorites when I was a kid!)

Big Mama, by Tony Crunk. (Big Mama is a special grandmother who provides love and teaches responsibility to her orphaned grandson Billy, and to all his friends as well.)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. (101 stories to open the hearts and rekindle the spirits of mothers.)

Is Your Mama a Llama?, by Deborah Guarino. (Lloyd the llama goes on a quest to find out how many baby animals have llamas for mamas.)

Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. (A mother sings to her sleeping baby, toddler, child, teen, and grown son: "I'll love you forever, I'll love you for always…my baby you'll be.")

Meditations for Mothers: Moments with God Amidst a Busy Nest, by Elisa Morgan. (These brief devotions encourage you to take time out from motherhood's never-ending chores to refresh your spirit.)

My Very Own Mother's Day: A Book of Cooking and Crafts, by Robin West. (Menus, recipes, and directions for simple, handcrafted gifts for Mom.)

Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan. (A tender tale of a widowed farmer with two children who advertises for a wife and mother - and about the woman who answers that ad.)

Something for Mom, by Norma Jean Sawichi. (Mom is downstairs fixing breakfast, while her young daughter is upstairs, wrapping up a surprise for her mom's birthday.)

What Mommies Do Best, by Laura Numeroff. (Shows animal mothers and their children doing a variety of activities together.)

Recommended Websites

(Mother's Day history, crafts, gifts, poems, recipes, etc.)

(Mother's Day activities for kids: games, coloring pages, "I Love You Mom" notes to make; a bookmark, promise cards, and "Greatest Mom" award to print out, plus a computer screen saver that washes windows.)

(Mother's Day history, links, gift ideas, what the Bible says about mothers; also includes a Stepmother's Page.)

(Inspirational, encouraging messages for moms.)

(Christian Mother's Day poems and essays.)

(Mother's Day poems with background music.)

(Mother's Day poems, quotations, and Victorian art images.)

(Biblical study of Proverbs 31, with printable worksheets.)


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.

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