Copyright 2006 Mary Foley
Recently I read something in the book Uppity Women of Ancient Times that made me pause:
Slowly, very slowly, women became individuals, people whose consent mattered.
So, the wise women of old are telling me that before others will take me seriously, Ive got to be my own person, someone who takes herself seriously. When I value myself as a Bodacious Woman, others notice and value me back. (The slowly, very slowly part is killin me, though. I gotta speed this puppy up!)
It turns out that thousands of years later this same I value myself first and then others value me gave birth to our modern day Mothers Day in the United States. It all started with Anna Jarvis who thought her individual ideas and actions were valuable and should be recognized.
Better known as Mother Jarvis, Anna organized womens brigades to help injured men during the American Civil War, not matter what side they were on. She continued to be active in the community, including helping resolve post-war conflicts between opposed neighbors. She took her nurturing mothering job seriously and demonstrated her belief that mothering went beyond child rearing.
Then, in 1878, Mother Jarviss daughter heard her comment during a Sunday school lesson, I hope and pray that someone, somewhere will found a memorial mothers day. There are days for men but none for women. A few years later her daughter, also named Anna, petitioned current and past Presidents, along with other prominent men, to do just that. In 1907 the first Mothers Day was celebrated in Grafton, WV and Philadelphia, PA. By 1914 the national Mothers Day holiday was born. Mother Jarvis dream had come true.
What I love about this story is that Mother Jarvis fully embraced her individual worth in society and spurred other women to do the same. As more and more women believed and acted this way they became a people whose consent mattered. In this sense, Mothers Day is a day for all women. What we think and do matters, as long as we believe it ourselves.
So, on Mothers Day lets honor the women of ancient times, the women of our American history, and our own mothers who esteemed being female and contributed to women being people whose consent mattered. Lets do our part by being women who value ourselves, cheer each other on, and make a difference. Now thats bodacious!