by Jasmina Back
“In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask
that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality,
may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient,
and at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
to promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
the amicable settlement of international questions,
the great and general interests of peace.“
Julia Ward Howe / Mother’s Day Proclamation
Mother’s Day is celebrated across the globe on different days of the year, most commonly in May. Countries such as Finland, Chile, China, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Singapore, Pakistan and the US, celebrate this special day the second Sunday of May.
But why do we celebrate Mother’s Day? One of the early advocates of this day, Anna Jarvis, never had children of her own. What inspired her to organize the first Mother’s Day celebration in 1908 was the death of her own mother three years previously. Already in 1870 Julia Ward Howe, a renowned American activist, feminist, poet, and the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, wrote what is known as the Mother’s Day Proclamation. This means, Mother’s Day was originally meant to be a day of peace, an attribute to mothers who lost their loved ones in the Civil War.
Mother’s Day became an official holiday in 1914. Since then, this day has been celebrated in many ways in different cultures. In our society today, we might give our mothers a call and wish them a happy Mother’s Day, or even remember them with a special gift. Despite of how we remember them, perhaps the aim is that we do remember them. Because this day doesn’t only concern mothers, but it involves us all in one way or another. Whether you are a man or a woman, a parent or not, there is always a mother figure included in our lives. So, to all mothers out there, happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Kota!
For this article, we talked to a few women of all walks of life to ask them what motherhood means to them. I found that some of them could easily reply to the question while others hesitated at first. Another question that naturally followed and was also asked was ‘In what ways can the society better support mothers?’
Many faces of motherhood
[Motherhood is] caring, is love you give to your child. It is literally giving of yourself. You love your child so much that you don’t want to see anything bad happen to them. It’s always about being there for them.
A lot of people don’t see motherhood as the actual embracers of a nation. Yes, it takes two parents to give life, but the mother is the person who provides, nurtures and all of that. I think society can help mothers in better educating young women about motherhood, on issues as for example why you shouldn’t get pregnant too young. Give women all the information that is necessary on how to take care of a child. Of course, every child is different and so being a mother is not something you can really teach but a foundation needs to be set. Jacqueline, 44
Motherhood is to be happy. I married 22 years ago. This is my nephew, I don’t have any children of my own. After 13 years of marriage my husband really wanted a baby. Since it is allowed in our country, I told him to take another wife. It’s not a problem for me. Now he has children and I am happy for him. Now everything is normal. Before when we didn’t have children, we had a lot of problems. We spent so much time with medical tests. Back in my country many women leave their husbands when they can’t have children. We are still together because I love him. Anonymous
The Hardest Job There Is
I have 3 kids. I think motherhood is the hardest and most important job there is. It’s not even rewarding, but it is important. Although it is a cliché to say children are the future, but the truth is they really are. The world as we know it is full of problems and the adults today can’t always fix them. We have to hope the next generation will continue to improve them and make it all better. And I think that’s happening.
Respect women’s work and labor. Respect motherhood as the most important job. And support women and families. And Fathers too. I worked in the hospital with new moms as a social worker for 10 years. A lot of them don’t have family around to support them. Many times, they have to get up and go back to work. They need more time and space to figure it out and connect with other women or other families so that they know that they are not alone. Violet, 41
Some people don’t know how to be a mother, they give birth and that’s it. But giving birth doesn’t make you a mother. You have to nurture, you have to be there for them. You can be more of a mother to a niece, a cousin or a random kid, than their own mothers. A good mom is supposed to be caring and have patience. When your child cries, instead of saying stop crying, you say oh you don’t need to cry, it’s going to be alright. Being a good mother is establishing a relationship of trust with your kid.
We are nannies. We do this work not only for the money. These kids are almost like our children. We spend a lot of our time taking care of them. We really would like some of the mothers to show more appreciation for the work we do. A little more respect. We are employees, yes, but we are also people. Sometimes we feel like we are not allowed to be sick because we are employed to take care of their children. Some people think they are the only ones entitled to be mothers. And that hurts. I can’t talk for everyone, but this is how I feel. Kesha, 41 & friend
My children don’t always remember Mother’s Day. But when they remember they do call me. It’s not in their upbringing, and that’s my fault. Motherhood is taking responsibility. It is taking care of them when you have them.
Society could acknowledge mothers more. Also, stop blaming mothers for delinquent children. Although they raise them, but children still make their own choices. Roberta, 73 & Kim, 29
Hard. I mean I’m not a mother but taking care of these two [kids] is already hard. But I’d say love as well and a lot of patience.
Provide more help in daycare system. Specially for single moms. They are doing it all by themselves. I have friends like that. Provide more help with daycare. I’m not saying it has to be free, but it could cost less. Janelle, 24
Even Mothers Need Support
I have a 14-year-old daughter. The thing I’ve been thinking about the most when it comes to motherhood is making sure I am modelling for my daughter what I want her to be in life. For Mother’s Day I want her to see me doing something that makes her proud that I am her mom.
There are obvious things like better support for new mothers and longer paternity leaves. Frankly, having fathers to be more important as caregivers. I think mothers are only going to realize their true potential when they have enough support at home and they are not solely responsible for child care. I think having balanced policy for men as caregivers is huge. Jennifer, 51
Raising your kids right. Being caring, loving, and being a caretaker. When you are a mom you are basically a doctor or a nurse. Thinking about kids makes me not want to have them. It takes ability to raise kids.
Society could help mothers by providing better education for their kids. Teach them in school to stop bullying. Kids might be taught one thing at home but in school they will learn other values. A big part of a kid’s time is spent in school. Schools should co-work more with parents and listen to them. Men should also be involved, and not only as financial providers. Angelica, 24 & Alba, 25
What Love Is
Unconditional love, compassion, understanding, patience, I could go on forever. Trying to listen with an open mind. That applies pretty much in every relationship.
Parental leave for mothers and fathers. It is important because the bond you build with your father and mother is crucial. Society could also support mothers by providing accommodations for nursing at work. Also, providing affordable childcare services close to their workplaces would be helpful. Ruth, 65
Motherhood is to care and to love unconditionally... But oh, sometimes I wish they [kids] came with a remote control (kid running away).
We were looking into pre-schools and the ones we like are expensive. You’ll pay up to 40.000 US dollars a year for preschool. And it’s not even one year, its nine months (a school year). To pay that amount for a 3-year-old is ridiculous. And it’s year after year. So, we just hire a nanny. I’m not fond of the nanny system either. I see many of nannies with kids in the park and most of them are on their cellphones. Our society should be more open. We moved from Harlem 5 years ago and we really liked it there. People greeted you on the street and you felt welcome. We need more of that. Our society is sometimes too individualistic. Miko, 34