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The Happiness Connection  

Shadow side of mom's day

“Be careful what you wish for; it just might come true.”

This saying has always intrigued me, especially when I was younger. How could wanting to go to Disneyland be a bad thing? Why wouldn’t I want that to happen?

In life, every situation has both light and shadow sides.

By a shadow side, I mean a less desirable, slightly darker outcome than the bright and cheery one you focus on when you wish for it.

I believe that there is a shadow side to just about everything, including Mother’s Day.

In fact, the woman who is responsible for establishing Mother’s Day in North America, ended up trying to have the holiday rescinded

Obviously, she wasn’t successful as there will be countless numbers of families enjoying brunch together today.

Anne Reeves Jarvis was a social activist who lived in the States from 1832–1905. This was a time when infant mortality was high. Although Anne gave birth to around a dozen babies, only four reached adulthood.

She worked to improve health and sanitary conditions in homes by establishing Mother’s Day Work Clubs. She devoted herself to honouring and helping mothers.

Her daughter Anna Marie Jarvis was moved by her mother’s devotion. She recalled a prayer her mother said one day as she ended that week’s Sunday school in 1876.

“I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”

    Anne Reeves Jarvis

When her mother died, Jarvis began a campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States. She chose the second Sunday in May, because that was the day her mother died.

It took her six years, but by 1911, all American states recognized Mother’s Day.

Jarvis intended the day to be an opportunity for everyone to show appreciation for their mother. She intended it to be personal and intimate.

Have you ever noticed that it is Mother’s Day, not Mothers’ Day? This reflects the personal nature the day was intended to have. It was meant to be about your mom, not all moms.

In the early 1920s, card companies and florists began to cash in on the occasion. They started selling Mother’s Day cards and bouquets. It turned out to be very profitable.

Jarvis believed that they were exploiting what was meant to be a sentimental occasion.

She was so incensed by the unexpected commercialism, that she organized boycotts of the day and started a petition to have Mother’s Day removed from the calendar.

The anger she felt consumed her. Many people saw it as a sign of lunacy.

When she was 80, she was admitted to a mental asylum. That is where she spent the last four years of her life. She died aged 84, deeply in debt.

Ironically, a group of grateful florists helped pay her asylum bill.

When Jarvis began her journey to establish a special day for mothers, I’m sure she had no idea where it might lead.

Perhaps it is time to honour Jarvis and return Mother’s Day to its roots.

Just because companies want to profit from the day, doesn’t mean we have to play their game. You can make a change in your world and pull things back to the original intention of the day.

If your children are young, show them a new normal. Focus on sharing time, not stuff. You don’t need to spend money on your mom to show her you love and appreciate her. A home-made card is more meaningful than one you bought.

I don’t intend to buy my mom a card, or a present this year, although I did give her the option. I let her choose between a present or some time together at Orchard Park.

Don’t judge me. I could give her both, but I was curious which she preferred. Now, I know more about the origins of the day, I’m choosing to bring Mother’s Day in my world, back to the one Jarvis intended it to be.

Even if you’ve already bought a card, or present, make sure the sentiment isn’t lost. Write your mom a letter, give her a call, or take time to be with her. That will be the best present she could hope for.



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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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