Ask AJ #4

by humanmama on August 4, 2011

Ask AJ #4 comes from Pittsburgh, again, from Amy B. She writes,

“AJ, why does everyone give me gardening items for Mother’s day??”

On Mother’s Day each year (a completely necessary holiday), it seems like the go-to gifts for Moms are floral. Like, gift cards to Home Depot, perennials, flats of flowers. All kinds of commercials on TV during May are about how Mother’s Day is near, so you should quick! buy something flower-y and take it to your mom.

(So she can plant it.

And do more work.)

Hmm. Mother’s Day. I looked it up. President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill in 1914 setting aside the second Sunday in May to celebrate mothers, but it’s more than that. Of course, it was began by women. But not in the way you’d think: a great article I found pointed to an activist named Julia Ward Howe. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe authored A Mother’s Day Proclamation. In it, she protested the Civil and other Wars, and wrote

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.” Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870

I mean, that lady was serious. She wasn’t calling mothers to take a day off, she was calling them to get to work. To come together and protest sending their sons to war, only “to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience.”

So what happened?

The floral industry realized there was a profit to be made in “celebrating” mothers on Mother’s Day. After Ward Howe, Ann Jarvis and her daughter Anna Jarvis took up the fight and rallied against Mother’s Day turning into a day of profit for the floral industry. Jarvis fought this until the very end of her life, when she died, childless and blind. But who would care for her at the end? An anonymous benefactor who later turned out to be The Florists’ Exchange. Apparently, a little protesting wasn’t ofsetting the major amount of money they had made on Mother’s Day. (A little depressing, right? Don’t worry. I’ll make it better.)

Mother’s Day today rakes in about $14 Billion a year. And a lot of that money is spent on flowers, which have come a long way from just a dozen roses to rose bushes, watering cans, hydrangeas, rakes, hostas, wheelbarrows, you name it.

So, that’s probably how it started. But why do moms not seem to mind?

In my opinion, I get about 12 minutes per day when I’m awake and kidless (did I just write twelve?! Probably more like 4). Unless I am doing something chore-y. Then I get more minutes. Many more minutes. When Carpenter is home he will take the kids out, or just entertain them, while I do my work in the garden. It’s outside, in the fresh air, maybe in the sunshine, and it’s alone. And I love that time.

After I had a c-section for both my kids, I was outside mowing the lawn within the week. I just needed the time alone. And I like to be out, sweating: it’s almost like working out without the mental block (for me) of working out. (With Lilly, I think I mowed the lawn the day after I got home from the hospital. Hey, I was healed! I needed to get OUT!)

But to me there’s another story. There’s only two places in my life that day after day I do work–incremental and sometimes barely noticeable work–in order to yield big huge rewards later.

















And so, my dear, just enjoy those gifts. But by all means–if you’re not a gardener?–give them to me. (And it would be prudent to let your family know you’d rather have chocolate, anyway!)


P.S. Thanks, Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis, and you’re so right, by the way. If only women were the world’s leaders, perhaps there would be less war in this world.

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