The Original Intent of Mother's Day

by Patti Teel

Mother's DayMother's Day is a time for honoring and thanking our own mothers for giving us life, raising us and being a source of emotional support and love. It is that rare day to enjoy breakfast in bed, cards and flowers from our own children and husbands.

The original intent of Mother's day is unknown to the general population. To the women who contributed to its inception, Mothers Day was much more than a recognition of individual mothers. It was an opportunity to use mother love as a powerful force for peacemaking, reconciliation and community cohesion.

The History of Mother's Day

In the 1850's Anna Reeves Jarvis organized Mother Work Day Clubs that focused on providing medicine for the poor and on improving sanitary conditions. Then, during the Civil War, Mothers Day Clubs cared for all soldiers -- irregardless of which side of the battle they had chosen. After the war ended, Anna continued her peacemaking by working to bring people together to heal the deep wounds of those who had been divided by the war.

In the 1870s, Julia Ward Howe began organizing "Mothers Peace Day." After the blood bath of the civil war, she focused on voting rights for women and world peace. When war broke out between France and Prussia, she wrote an impassioned plea to mothers saying, "Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

Following unsuccessful efforts to pull together an international peace conference, and while the Franco Prussian war was still in progress, she began a global appeal to women. For the next 30 years, Americans celebrated Mothers Day for Peace on June 2. During this time, mothers played a leading role in the abolitionist movement to end slavery and launched campaigns to protect children and to improve the working conditions of women.

Anna Reeves Jarvis' daughter, Anna Jarvis is generally credited with the establishment of Mother's Day in America. She tirelessly organized a letter writing campaign so that the work that her mother waged for peacemaking would not be forgotten. In 1914, her efforts paid off when Congress passed the Mothers Day resolution, appointing it as a national holiday to be celebrated annually on the second Sunday in May.

Our Mother's Legacy

Today, our greatest threat is from an indifference and irreverence for human welfare and the health of our planet. But mothers' hearts have never been, nor will ever be indifferent to the suffering and death of their own sons or daughters or those of another mother's child. Throughout history, women have acted to bring the love and compassion felt for their own children into their community, their country and their world.

I'm honored to be part of a newly formed circle of women, whose mission is to inspire and promote peace. Together with the Santa Barbara Chapter of Veterans for Peace, we are organizing a Mothers Day ceremony at a stretch of beach in Santa Barbara, California -dubbed Arlington West. Here, it is impossible to be indifferent to the devastating cost of war.

For on Mothers Day and each and every Sunday morning, individual white crosses are placed in long straight rows in the sand, one for each fallen soldier of the war. The gathering will honor and mourn the loss of lives, as has been the tradition of communities for centuries, and commit to working for peaceful solutions to conflict in our world.

Together, our mother love is powerful. Help unite the chorus of mother's voices in the name of peace.

Organize your own circle of women to fuel the flame of mother love. Whether you're gathering for play dates with other mothers and their young children-teaching your children to get along and respect one another, or assembling as political activists, together our mother love is powerful.

Help your children to discover and maintain inner peace, compassion and acceptance. Peace starts with each individual. Each child whose heart is filled with inner peace, compassion and acceptance will grow up to become a beacon for peace on Earth.

Dubbed "The Dream Maker" by People magazine, Patti Teel is a former teacher and the author of The Floppy Sleep Game Book, which gives parents techniques to help their children relax or fall asleep. She is holding Dream Academy workshops at schools, hospitals, and libraries across the country where parents and children learn the playful relaxation techniques from her book and widely acclaimed children's audio series. Visit her website for more information.

Copyright © Patti Teel. Permission to republish granted to