‘Twas Mother’s Day once again last Sunday, May 14, or second Sunday of May.
Mother’s Day is diversely celebrated on different dates across the globe – February in Norway; March in most European and Middle East countries; April in Armenia; June in Mongolia, Luxemburg and Afghanistan; August in Thailand and Costa Rica; October in Belarus, Vietnam and Argentina; November in Russia, and, of course, May in US, Canada and the Philippines.
Interestingly, we, too, in the Philippines have had a helter-skelter deciding the actual date of Mother’s Day.
Former President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. signed a proclamation in 1980 declaring the first Monday of December as both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Then, President Cory Aquino changed the date to align with the American tradition of observing Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May, and Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June.
Then, President Joseph Estrada moved back the date to the first Monday of December in 1998.
Currently, however, marching along the American tradition, our Mother’s Day observance falls on the same day as the US and Canada.
It is interesting to note too that, from the American origin, Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 when she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration in Grafton, West Virginia. Ironically, Jarvis remained unmarried and childless her whole life.
Now, enough with the dates and origin, what significance or meaning can we derive from Mother’s Day?
Obviously, it’s a given: It’s honoring the mothers and the virtues that come along with motherhood.
But, more than just the banality of motherhood statements, so to speak, what does motherhood really entail? Let me reckon.
One, motherhood is a celebration of womanhood, and fecundity is a genuine source of blessing for woman – it is a reflection and participation in the divine creative act.
In her Master’s thesis published in 2018 (University of Notre Dame Australia), titled “The Christian Concept of the Nature of Motherhood and Its Implications in a Contemporary Context,” Christine Lillian Fisk beautifully notes: “Motherhood is not something which reckons woman as inferior to man but is a profound blessing for woman by virtue of it being a means by which she both images her Creator as well as participates in God’s own creative nature. Motherhood is specifically connected to the personal dimension of the human vocation of self-gift and also of self-discovery.”
Two, every woman is called to be a mother. Again, Fisk points out: “Woman cannot choose to not be mother, as someone cannot choose to do away with their nature. As much as a pine tree may desire to be a water lily, no amount of wishful thinking or attempts to alter appearance would enable it to change that which it is. It is woman’s nature to be mother, so anything that obstructs or deprives this vocation must indeed be a result of the veil of sin.”
Three, motherhood is not confined to the home, goes beyond barrenness, and includes spiritual motherhood.
Just as woman does not leave her femininity when she walks out the door of her house, so too she is a mother not just in the house, but wherever she goes.
On a similar vein, the barren woman, before being barren, is a woman – she is not defined by her barrenness. A woman bears an inherent goodness – a goodness that is not diminished by the existence of physical ailments, barrenness included. Indeed, even for a barren wife, she can still exercise her motherhood over an adopted child, her home – or, if not, spiritually.
Lastly, even for nuns and those with religious vows, spiritual motherhood is yet accorded to them.
St. John Paul II once wrote: “Nevertheless, the renunciation of physical motherhood (i.e. for nuns and religious), a renunciation that can involve great sacrifice for a woman, makes possible a different kind of motherhood: motherhood ‘according to the Spirit’.”
A MEANINGFUL celebration of Mother’s Day to my dear wife and to all mothers … God bless you ever more!