*Note: This audio essay first aired on KRCC (Colorado Springs’ NPR affiliate, 91.5 FM) on May 6, 2021. The link to the program is here; the audio file and the text from the essay are below.

The woman who made Mother’s Day an official holiday wasn’t a mother herself. She had no children of her own. In fact, she stood outside motherhood and looked on with appreciation.

Many cultures through the ages have celebrated mothers, but the modern holiday began in 1907, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her own mom in West Virginia. 

She campaigned state by state until, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day a national holiday, the second Sunday in May. 

In my eyes, this year may just be the mother of all Mother’s Days. 

If you mothered your way through this year, you’re on par with some of the toughest mothers that have ever walked the Earth.

Since Ms. Jarvis’s holiday was born, mothers have endured the Great Depression, two world wars, and the worst those four apocalyptic horsemen could throw at us.

And this past year is right up there. School changed. Work changed. Everything changed. 

Moms carried emotional and physical burdens this past year, most of which we never saw. They kept families healthy and sane, sometimes at the cost of their own health and sanity.

Motherhood isn’t just nine months, a little labor, then that’s it. It’s lifelong care, lifelong concern, lifelong commitment. It’s finding patience when you’re impatient, it’s to reach for hope when there seems little cause for hope, it’s to love even when it seems the hardest thing to do is feel love. 

And so we all take our places alongside Anna Jarvis this Mother’s Day, standing in awe of what our mothers’ do. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you … and once more, we all thank you. Happy Mother’s Day!

Until our next mountainside chat — be good, be well, and no matter what, climb on.

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