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Like everyone in the US today, this Mother’s Day was spent doing rituals and/or traditions to honor their mothers. I spent mine in a restaurant with her and my daughter/her granddaughter conve4rsing about medical procedures and how she scarred me for life over skirt steak and eggs (it’s a very Upper West Side Jewish tradition that we like to uphold). While honoring traditions is good, one should also recognize the radical influences around Mother’s Day.

The original idea for Mother’s Day wasn’t about honoring mothers as much as it was about organizing them for peace. Julia Ward Howe gave what has been refered to as the Mother’s Day Proclamaiton in 1872, when she called on women to join in the struggle for disarmament amd asked to establish June 2 as a “mother’s day for peace.” The mission was for women throughout the US to fight against sending their sons to die on foreign wars. This failed to catch on as a peace effort, but it is still an essential part of the history of Mother’s Day in my opinion.

In the creation of the modern Mother’s Day, there are still the seeds of dissent. Anna Jarvis succeeded in getting a national day to honor mothers in 1914 when President Wilson signed the order proclaiming it for every second Sunday in May. Jarvis’ mother was a peace activist during the Civil War caring for wounded soldiers on both sides. She worked for 9 years to make it a national holiday and it paid off. However after seeing how quickly and deeply the day became commercialized, she tried to have the holiday rescinded. She was arrested for disturbing the peace for protesting an American War Mothers conference.

Obviously, mothers have a great deal of influence in our lives. They set examples of not only how we relate to other women but authority figures in general. I always clashed with my father, eevn when he was at his angriest; when mom was mad, you don’t dare cross her. So important re women that many other countries celebrate International Women’s Day instead of Mother’s Day (or both). With my daughter’s mother gone, I have to play both parental roles, but for Mother’s Day I always try to remind my girl about the women in her life that matter. Hence why I like bringing her to see her grandma—the strongest woman I know of, even at 74 with no teeth and bad knees.

Remember that this week while many cheered the mother who smacked her teenage son for participating in the Baltimore riots, it was a mother of two that indicted six cops for the murder to hold them accountable. So as we honor mothers and all they do, let us not forget the struggles women endure to be equals in this world and to keep their children from dying here and abroad.

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