I have a secret to tell you. It’s about Mother’s Day.
You know the story the world has told you about Mother’s Day: that it’s a Hallmark holiday about staying home and snuggling up and opening gifts and having pedicures and brunch with our little tribe?
It’s a lie. Mother’s Day was never about brunch.
Mother’s Day wasn’t created by Hallmark. Mother’s Day was created by a grieved, activist, revolutionary Love Warrior named Julia Ward Howe. Tired of war, tired of tribalism being valued above the lives of the vulnerable—her pain and hope merged and became her mission. After living through the bloodshed of the Civil War, she called out for peace: she called out for revolution.
She called the day of the revolution: MOTHER’S DAY.
“Women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before!
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts! Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Let us meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let us then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God!”
—Julia Ward Howe and her original Mother’s Day Proclamation, written in 1870
Feel ambivalent about Mother’s Day? Me too. That’s because we didn’t know the truth of it. Now we do.
Today, in the spirit of Julia Howe and every other revolutionary for love: Let us take back Mother’s Day by mothering the motherless. Let us become the leaders we were waiting for. Let us leave our mark on the world and let that mark be radical, relentless, dangerous love that reaches beyond ourselves and beyond our neighborhoods and races and religions and rules and borders and differences and fear. Let our love insist that there is no such thing as other people’s children—that there is no peace for a parent until all children have peace—and that there is no rest for a child of God until all children of God can rest.
So this Mother’s Day, let the politics rage on—let us give and heal and serve and sing.
All are welcome to join us in mothering this broken world. Men, women, children. Those who had perfect mothers and those whose mothers could not love you the way you deserved to be loved. Those whose mothers abused and neglected and abandoned you. Those who have happy families and sad families, married mamas and single mamas and fathers doing the fathering and mothering. Those who’ve lost mothers and those who are losing beloved mothers right now. Those mothers who’ve lost children. Those mothers whose children are lost. Those mothers whose children are sick. Those who are trying to become mothers. The aunties who mother by nurturing the life in people and animals and plants and whose particular type of mothering is vital to the world. Those mothers who can’t find a moment to yourself and mothers who can’t find a single person to celebrate you. Join us. All. We need ALL to heal the world. Especially the brokenhearted.
Mother’s Day was never about waiting to be celebrated. It was about joining in this movement that says: whether we’re raising them or not, we are all mothers of this brutiful world, sent to nurture life in a million different ways. Let’s celebrate Mother’s Day in the spirit of that revolutionary, universal love that proclaims: We are our brothers’ and sisters’ and babies’ keepers. Let’s watch our gratitude and peace and power and children rise together.