The Dance of Connection

Rescuing women and men from the quicksand of difficult relationships.

Mother's Day: The True Story Never Told

Forget flowery sentimentality. Here's the true meaning of Mother's Day

With all the flowery sentimentality surrounding Mother's Day, the real meaning of Mother's Day is easily lost. In fact, I was ignorant myself until I read Joan Lester's book, The Future of White Men and Other Diversity Dilemmas.

 Mother's Day originated in 1870 as an appeal to women to leave the home for an "earnest day of counsel" in which women would meet together to influence international issues of the day.

 The first Mothers Day proclamation began with the words, "Arise, then, women of this day!" It was a call to public action.

 The Mother's Day proclamation urged women to take public policy into their own hands. It also asked women to stop supporting men who weren't dedicated to seeking peaceful settlements of international conflict.

 "Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause," the proclamation continued.

 Mother's Day was born out of the suffragist movement of the 1850's and 1860's when women joined together to fight slavery and seek the vote. How fascinating that the bold history of Mother's Day has become transformed into a sanctification of women's domestic role.

 I agree with Lester's suggestion that we celebrate Mother's Day by remembering its origins. We can honor our mothers and foremothers by remembering that a woman's sphere is rightly regarded as the world.

No false sentimentality here.




Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., is best known for her work on marriage and family relationships and the psychology of women. Her book The Dance of Anger has recently been reissued.


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