What The Origin of Mother’s Day Can Teach Us

Ready for some history that I learned on the internet? 

The founder of Mother’s Day is widely believed to be Anna Jarvis who wanted to commemorate mothers like her own. Jarvis’s mother ran organizations dedicated to combat high infant and child mortality rates, teaching families how to safely raise a baby. Anna Jarvis’s mission led to a Presidential “Mother’s Day” proclamation in 1914.  

Great story! Great proclamation! But there was ANOTHER inspiring mom trying to create a Mother’s Day proclamation 44 years prior… 

A Day of Peace

Julia Ward Howe was the OG mom of Mother’s Day. She was known for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” but in 1870 she also wrote the “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World”. (It was later named, “Mother’s Day Proclamation”). This mom was fed up with violence, specifically the carnage of the American Civil War.  

Some things written in 1870 don’t hold up too well. But this? Well, read these excerpts:

“Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.”

“From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, Disarm!” 

Julia Ward Howe wanted a “Mother’s Day of Peace” to be celebrated every year on June 2, but her movement was unsuccessful. 

The Ache for Change

There are many who wish Julia Ward Howe’s version of Mother’s Day had prevailed, including, believe it or not, Anna Jarvis. Jarvis died regretting her Presidential “Mother’s Day” proclamation after commercialization drove the price of white carnations to spike as a result.

Another woman who would have loved Howe’s original mother’s day? My wife.  

My beautiful, hilarious, fun-loving, kind-hearted wife. You see her on the internet smiling, dancing, and laughing as she tells you about her life in this home. What you may not see (unless you look closely at her IG stories and listen to our podcast) is how much she is hurting when she sees what is going on outside this home. She sees the deaths from gun violence in our nation and her heart is breaking. She sees shootings in schools and she, like Howe, aches for change.  

Skip The Flowers

This year when I asked her what she wanted for Mother’s Day,  she asked me to call our representatives in Congress and implore them to take on the most basic parts of meaningful gun reform: passing legislation that would require background checks on all gun sales. 

She wants peace, not carnations.

In fact, there’s a movement on social media called #phonecallsnotflowers encouraging the public to take action to honor moms in this country. 

So that’s what I did. I called our representatives in the US House and Senate (one of which owns a gun store and shooting range) to ask them to support HB and SB (S. 494 or H.R. 715) respectively that polls say most Americans support. I also contacted our state representatives as there is currently discussion in our legislature to allow people to buy and carry guns without a permit. 

To answer some common questions:

#1 Aren’t there already background checks?

From the American Academy of Pediatrics: 

  1. Current federal law requires background checks to be performed for anyone purchasing a firearm at a federally licensed gun dealer–however only 40% of guns sold in the US are sold through a federally licensed dealer.
  2. In most states, sales at gun shows, flea markets, and private gun sales are not subject to regulations and background checks.
  3. States with universal background check laws require that all sales of firearms take place through a licensed dealer who can perform a background check prior to the sale.
  4. Only 13 states have this currently.

#2 Can we focus on mental health?

There’s no doubt there’s a mental health component. If you’re a reader or listener to the content we produce – you know how seriously we advocate for mental healthcare. But, unfortunately, there are times when the warning signs for mass shooters go completely undetected, even by close friends and family. Yes it’s a mental health issue but it’s also a gun issue. 

#3 If you take guns away from law abiding citizens, won’t only criminals will have them?

No one is taking guns from law-abiding citizens in this proposed legislation.

Calling Your Senator

First, here’s a link to find your representatives in Congress. 

Here’s the script I used. You can call your representatives and read the exact same words. Hearing from constituents is so important. And yes, I even called our Senator who owns a gun store. 

Hello, my name is [name] and I live in [city], [state].

I am a constituent.

Like most Americans, I am extremely worried about gun violence in this country. A new poll just released from Fox News shows that voters from both parties overwhelmingly favor common sense gun limits to keep the public safe, including 87% who support background checks for all gun sales.

I’m calling to request the Representative [or Senator] cosponsor bipartisan legislation to expand background checks. Congress must work together to protect our communities and honor the will of their voters.

The bill number is [S. 494 or H.R. 715]. Thank you.

Every year, when I write Kim a card for Mother’s Day, I try to tell her very specifically why she is a great Mom. I have cited her humor, her loyalty, her devotion. This year I will cite her courage to stand up for something that will better protect her children. 

Sometimes the best Mom is a courageous Mom, and our family sure does have one.