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Mother’s Day – a fresh perspective

Mother’s Day began as a celebration of motherhood and to remember a famous mother. It’s time to return to the roots of that day.

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Today is Mother’s Day. But what should be a day to celebrate mothers and reflect on motherhood, is a day of bitter controversy.

History of Mother’s Day

The custom of honoring mothers on some day in springtime dates back to classical times. The earliest classical cults were those of Rhea and Cybele, both “mother goddesses.” In the Middle Ages, people celebrated “Mothering Sunday,” originally on the Fourth Sunday in Lent.

The modern American Mother’s Day traces its roots before the War Between the States. Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia started “Mother’s Day Work Clubs,” to teach mothering skills and for mutual support. This happened before the War Between the States. After the War, Mrs. Jarvis organized Mothers’ Friendship Day in 1868 to promote reconciliation between North and South.

Anne Reeves Jarvis died in 1905. Her daughter Anna held a memorial service for her on May 12, 1907. She even started the custom of handing out carnations in a mother’s honor – red to honor a living mother, white to remember a dead one. The carnation had been Anne Reeves Jarvis’ favorite flower.

In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that the second Sunday in May would be Mother’s Day in America.

Thus Mother’s Day began with the teaching of motherhood and ended on themes of national reconciliation. Bear this in mind now that motherhood has actually become a bone of contention.

The Roe leak

That contention began last week with the leak of Justice Alito’s first-draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

This “Roe v. Wade Leak” has caused people to behave in a manner we haven’t seen since the War Between the States, or maybe ever. On one hand, a United States Senator decries the leak and calls for criminal prosecution. In assuming that the leak came from a left-leaning Court clerk, he might be speculating without foundation. (CNAV still wonders whether Chief Justice Roberts originated the leak, given the swiftness of the gathering of an angry mob and of the protective measures that stopped that mob from entering the Courthouse.) But at least he acknowledges, and says up front, that someone committed a criminal act.

Democrats seem perfectly copacetic with the leak, and with 100 or so people marching past Justices’ houses yesterday. The day after the leak, the Vice-President was more concerned with what the Court might do than with any criminality. And yesterday, Jen Psaki refused to condemn those who picketed the Justices’ houses – or might disrupt church services today. She actually said the Court’s decision and its likely consequences were more important than the leak.

Leftists decry mothers and motherhood

More stunning still is the widespread attitude against mothers and Mother’s Day. A Twitter account calling itself “Ruth Sent Us” sent this video of a disruption of a Catholic Mass.

What’s with the red robes and the wing-like hats? You see in that video the uniform of a “Handmaid” in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. Ms. Atwood hasn’t changed her attitude since she wrote that screed against motherhood and the Church in 1985.

OK, so you see a bunch of drama queens who have nothing better to do with their time. But now read the signs that those 100 protesters carried in front of Justices’ houses before the police showed up.

I am a person. [Foxtrotting] crazy, I know.

An abortion saved my family.

Abortion is healthcare; healthcare is a right.

And another sign that CNAV will not describe.

All of which to say that, for forty-nine years or longer, American politics has devalued motherhood. So now Mother’s Day is a political day.

Restoring the meaning of Mother’s Day

Contrary to that “Handmaid” drama, no one is seriously proposing to conscript women to let ranking men, with infertile wives, impregnate them – the old-fashioned way. For that matter, no one (other than a rapist) forces a woman to get pregnant. Even in that admittedly tragic case, one does not compound tragedy by killing the new life that sometimes doesresult.

This shouldn’t even be an issue. And why are so many women so afraid of motherhood? Why do they find so little joy in it that they would kill to avoid it? That speaks to the failing of our society to make sure all its members can find joy in affirming life.

So as a society, we need to tell Margaret Atwood to get off the stage. We don’t need her, and never did. Instead we need another Anne Reeves Jarvis, to found those Mother’s Day Work Clubs to teach motherhood. Actually we could use some teaching of a lot of lost arts. But motherhood especially qualifies.

So on this Mother’s Day, honor your mother, of course. But think back to this remarkable woman, Anne Reeves Jarvis, who thought enough about motherhood to offer to teach it.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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