Magic of mothers

Rebecca DiGirolamo

Rebecca DiGirolamo

Rebecca is an Adelaide-based writer

Mum, madre or mutter: it doesn’t matter what language as it all translates to love. So, Mother’s Day? Not quite sure what this means for most women. I know for me, a mum of two daughters aged six and eight that so far it hasn’t meant a day of R&R. With early risers, 6.30am is the latest I sleep in.

It does, however, mean a coffee in bed and tiny hands (and not-so-pitter-pattering feet down the hallway) delivering the newspaper before a mad dash to brunch, then lunch, and lastly dinner to celebrate all the mums in our large Italian clan.

During these get togethers the younger mums (I still consider myself young at 41) spend most of their time rushing around the table in between courses and hushing rowdy children back into their seats, where they can quietly reconnect with iPads and iPods and other electronic silencers. The dads and grandmas enjoy their beer and champagne. The kids eat their ice-cream. And the mums, well, let’s be honest, they look like they need a break.

They’re probably exhausted from all the retail mania that precedes Mother’s Day to find the ‘perfect’ gift for their own mums, mother-in-laws, grandmothers, sisters, sister-in-laws, and friends who are mums or mums-to-be! Which gets me thinking: why, how and for whom did this day for mums eventuate?

According to the font of all wisdom, Wikipedia, modern Mother’s Day began in the United State in 1908 after Anna Jarvis started a campaign for a day to honour mums following a memorial service to her own peace-activist mother. In 1914, the second Sunday of May was proclaimed a national holiday of tribute to mums in the US.

By the early 1920s however, companies like Hallmark were gaining a nice little profit from Mother’s Day, which Anna Jarvis felt undermined the whole sentiment of the day. Wasn’t it supposed to be a time for loved ones to write letters of thanks, praise and gratitude to the mothers in their lives, not to shower them with gifts? So annoyed, she even tried to have the day rescinded.

Other countries and cultures have adopted Mother’s Day, sometimes to celebrate existing days honouring mothers or on significant religious dates, such as Marian Feast days held in May to mark the life of the Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the Catholic Church. The Immaculate Conception Feast on December 8 officially marks Mother’s Day for people in Panama.

In Iran, Mother’s Day falls on the sixth month of the Islamic calendar (lunar calendar), commemorating the birthday anniversary of Fatimah, Prophet Muhammed’s only daughter in Shia Islam orthodoxy. In Israel, Mother’s Day falls on Shevat 30 of the Jewish calendar (between January and March) to mark the date children’s right champion Henrietta Szold died.

In Australia, gift-giving on Mother’s Day became popular in 1924 after Sydney woman Janet Heyden started a tradition of visiting the Newington State Home for Women. Her visits gained local community and government support through gifts and donations to the often lonely mums on Mother’s Day.

Which brings us back to why we celebrate Mother’s Day? I know it’s not for the gifts (I mean how many foot spas can a woman go through!). I think for me, it’s really about appreciating being a mum and having a mum: not only my biological mother but the women in my life who mother me and nurture, guide and inspire me to be a better mum.

It is about my husband too; his part in bestowing and sharing the gift of motherhood to and with me. It is about my girls and those handmade pasta necklaces that are really priceless. I’ve kept everyone. And most of all its about love: the love a child brings and gives and the love of a mother for their child.

Motherhood is a blind love and a leap of great faith. Before our child is even conceived, we fall in love with him or her. It is blind love that carries us through nine months of nausea, reflux, varicose veins, and, (shhhh don’t tell anyone) haemorrhoids, to arrive at spine-numbing contractions, 12-hour labour and what feels like hours of pushing … until it ends and begins at that take-your-breath away moment when your child is born; when you touch skins and you hear that cry, see those eyes, and trace the shape of your child’s brow for the very first time.

From that moment on, love is everywhere and it touches everyone. Ever noticed how older people light up when they see a baby? It’s because they know children have the power to heal, to evoke change for the better and to give great hope. They really are a package sent from heaven — despite all the crying, pooing, vomiting and peeing. And being mum to this precious bundle is truly the greatest gift and one which we should celebrate every day.

Mother’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday May 8. This article appeared in the 2015 March-June issue of the Majellan.

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