Mother’s Day – Lessons from Famous Mothers
Have you heard of ‘Mothering Sunday’? That’s what the original day was called that honored Mothers. It can actually be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans festivals honoring their Goddesses Rhea and Cybele, for them, the Mothers of all.
And the early Christians picked up on the holiday and made it their own by honoring the ‘mother church’ on the 4th Sunday of Lent.
Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.
We know from our history that the American version of Mother’s Day had its roots in our Civil War. It went from ‘Mother’s Work Clubs’ to ‘Mother’s Friendship Clubs’ to ‘Mother’s Peace Day’ to what we have today, Mother’s Day.
I thought it might be fun and interesting to look at a few famous mothers, real and fictional, and see what lessons they may have taught us.
Of course, I honor my Mother and my Grandmothers for their love and unique ways they had that helped me become me. One thing I learned from my Mother and continue to learn from her is that relationships must be fostered. You can’t get a good relationship without out knowing what kind of one you want and then working for it. We do that constantly just by listening to each other and always making sure that we let the other know how much we love and appreciate them.
So, let’s look at a few Mothers and what lesson we might learn from them.
We really need to look at the first mother, biblically; Eve: She was the mother of firsts. She was the first to bear a child. She was the first to ever go through childbirth. She would be the first to endure the chores of being a mother. • She would have likely had the privilege to witness the first smile of a baby, the first baby laugh, the first word, the first steps and the first questions of a child. • She was the first nurturer of children. Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. Sadly, she was the first to bury a child. • She was a mother of firsts in many ways. Her lesson may be to always be prepared for the unexpected. I’m sure she didn’t have a child birthing class that taught her the Lamaze method of breathing. There were no books on raising children and certainly none on handling the grief of losing a child, especially at the hands of a sibling. Definitely lessons in strength and moving forward. Probably many more too.
Next I choose Mary, the mother of Jesus. According to the Bible, she was chosen by God to have the baby and name him Jesus. Most likely, she was just a teenager, she would have had to endure the ridicule of being seen as a fornicator upon becoming pregnant prior to her marriage to Joseph. Yet she willingly felt it worthy for such a task, “‘may it be done to me according to your word.” She internalized moments of Jesus’ life, treasuring all the things that happened. She followed his ministry and was there for his first miracle, the water to wine, and for his death.
She took a great interest in her Son, just like any mother should do. She was just a normal simple woman that loved God and was blessed to be Jesus’ earthly mom. She handled the ridicule of Jesus being rejected in his home town, showing strength there that she would need later at the cross.
These two women were probably easy choices, so here may be a few that are not immediate choices.
How about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, born Joan Ruth Bader; March 15, 1933 is currently an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She was the second female justice to be confirmed to the Court (after Sandra Day O’Connor) She was a wife and mother before starting law school at Harvard, where she was one of the few women in her law school class. She transferred to Columbia Law School where she graduated tied for first in her class.
Following law school, she was a professor at Rutgers School of Law–Newark and Columbia Law School, teaching civil procedure. Ginsburg spent a considerable portion of her legal career as an advocate for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights, winning multiple victories arguing before the Supreme Court. She was a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Here is a woman who walked her talk early on and set an example for woman to stand up for what they believe in. She was smart and stood strong amongst her male colleagues. And I personally am proud she is on the highest court of our country.
And there are many women who do this very same thing.
I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Michelle Obama, former first Lady. She, too, practiced what she peached. She became a fashion icon, a role model for women, and an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating while First Lady. And as a Mother with two growing daughters in the White House, she certainly seemed to be doing a great job raising them under the extreme circumstances of such a situation. According to her biographer, she went on to prove that she concluded she could be “both brilliant and black.”
And any Mother who has to also handle the duties of the White House as well as being a Mother deserves credit. It is a difficult enough job raising children without National scrutiny.
So, two women who walked their talk, who set a great example for the younger generation of what can be done when we set our sights to our goals and work for them.
While considering this topic, I found it interesting and sometimes, not surprising, the names of Mothers considered famous. Some of the fictional ‘mothers’ were Marge Simpson. I do not know a lot about the Simpsons, but from what little understanding of the show I do have, I can understand Marge Simpson would be considered an icon simply for putting up with Homer!
Another TV Mother mentioned was Edith Bunker. Many of you, I think, will recall her character on the TV show, “All in the Family”. Again, a Mother and wife adjusting to life with a, let’s say, difficult husband and adding a married son and daughter-in-law living with them.
These TV shows show us women who were surviving in their circumstances, even being their own person against an unsupportive spouse. It shows strength and perseverance. And maybe loyalty too.
And here’s a favorite of mine from the world of literature, Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series. Molly Weasley was the Mother to 7 Weasleys. She and her husband Arthur were prominent in the Harry Potter books as surrogate, loving parents for the orphan Harry. Harry looked to the Weasley’s for comfort and support because he was certainly not getting it from his Aunt, Uncle and cousin.
Molly Weasley was noted as saying Harry was as good as one of her sons. She was fiercely protective of her children and unfailingly generous, especially to Harry. And she survived two Wizard Wars and is famous for ending the life of Death-eater, Bellatrix Lestrange.
I’m sure there are many other Mother’s in literature and TV and movies who will make my list and make yours too. Think of the favorite shows and movies you have and where there any nurturing characters in them? Take the time to look at the characters and what resonated with you. You may be surprised to find some characteristics that are also in you….
I HONOR THE LOVING MOTHER SPIRIT THAT NOURISHES AND SUSTAINS MANKIND.
THERE is a mother spirit at the very heart of our universe. Even as we think of God we think in terms of Father -Mother God. This mother principle is that which nourishes, sustains, feeds, tends, and holds together. On this day, which we are dedicating to all mothers everywhere, let us remember that we are honoring the mother spirit that is such an important part of this world in which we live. Let our first thoughts be of our physical mothers; then let our thoughts reach out to all those who have mothered us throughout our lives. In some cases, our mothering has come through a father; in other cases, our mothering has come through some dedicated person a teacher, nurse, or friend. Let our thoughts today be thoughts of gratitude for this wonderful mother -love, which has nourished and sustained us. This mother -love is an expression of God’s love, which now we are able to give back in some measure through our mothering of those who need our love and our thoughts.