Mother’s Day

Many of us have read Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870:

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise all women who have hearts,

Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears

Say firmly:

“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,

Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,

For caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of

charity, mercy and patience.

“We women of one country

Will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with

Our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!

Blood does not wipe out dishonor

Nor violence indicate possession.

As men have of ten 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.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means

Whereby the great human family can live in peace,

Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,

But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask

That a general congress of women without limit of nationality

May be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient

And at the earliest period consistent with its objects

To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,

The amicable settlement of international questions.

The great and general interests of peace.

Stirring stuff.  Still meaningful over a hundred years later.

I was over at a friend’s house last week.  She’s moving, and I came over to give her moral support and basically hang out.

In her packing she came across a Barbie Doll suitcase filled with Barbie’s and one Ken doll with very strange hair, and lots of doll clothes.

She showed me some of the clothes her mother had made for her dolls.  They were fantastic, so well sewn, miniature works of art.

I started going on about how fabulous they were, and then remembered that my mother was a great seamstress as well.

So we wondered why too many modern Americans don’t know how to sew any more.

Not that our mothers wanted to sew to become famous fashion designers.  They just knew because their mothers taught them and so on.

My mother had six children to raise on very little money.  She was resourceful but probably didn’t think of it that way.  It was just how she was raised.

Homemaking, another almost lost skill.  Coming home and having food on the table, having the laundry done, all that.  Not just housekeeping.  Homemaking.

My mother belonged to a club called The Homemaker’s Club.  These were all very busy women who didn’t have a lot of time for socializing.  But once a month or so they’d meet at various members’ homes and have some sort of a lunch and show off crafts and such.  I remember teasing my mom about her club.  There was a magazine they all subscribed to called Workbasket.

I remember being fascinated by one column where someone would write in asking what to do with, say, 500 styrofoam balls, and the columnist would give out several ideas, like making them into a hamper or something, lol.  I was not into crafts, so I would always tease my mom about the magazine.

When my mother died in 1992, all the ladies from her Homemaker’s Club who were still alive came to her funeral.  I noticed a wonderful glow, an aura, emanating from them, friendships that had lasted over 50 years, such kindness from these women.

My mother was not a well educated woman.  But she could see through bullshit a mile away and taught me to do the same.  ‘Course she always saw through my bullshit, too, which wasn’t so pleasant.

If she were still alive she wouldn’t be reading the blogs.  But she would have known what was what with this misAdministration and with the culture in general here in the USA.  She had common sense … a rare commodity these days.

I was glad that my mother lived long enough for me to finally dig her for what she was and have her transmit knowledge to me of her generation.  She gave me her stubbornness, her love of laughter, a tiny drop of her common sense and a great deal of strength.

Happy Mother’s Day, Ma.  I’m glad you had me … wouldn’t have missed this carnival for anything.


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  1. … to all the great moms everywhere.

    • geomoo on May 11, 2008 at 09:21

    It certainly gives the lie to the hallmark bs version of Mothers Day.  I never tire of reading it, and each time I want to proclaim its sentiments far and wide.

    And thanks for the enjoyable, honest tribute to your mom.  It means so much more when it’s based on what is real rather than on what I think of as “National Anthem emotion.”  Meaning manufactured, mentally based, overwrought, and unassimiliated “feelings” which are a controlled, predictable response to specific stimuli.  This as opposed to real emotion which springs from within, sometimes unpredictably and inconveniently.  The complex feelings hinted at here make for interesting reading, as well as the stimulating discussion of what motherhood used to me.

    Here’s an appreciation of my daughter for committing to carrying some tradition forward:  Her mother’s mom is smart but grew up dirt poor and poorly educated.  She works morning, noon, and night.  She must have sewn 500 quilts in her life, minimum.  Sadly, her designs are corny or just plain ugly to my daughters.  But that is of little matter.  My eldest daughter, at a young age, took it upon herself to learn from her how to sew quilts and keep up the tradition.  My daughter has become so busy with her life that it has been a while now, but I know she will occasionally commit herself to another quilt.  And her designs are beautiful.  Of course, her purpose is purely aesthetic and to honor her grandmother rather than to make use of every available scrap of cloth.  A sad note on this–her grandmother has not felt the honoring or enjoyed the emulation–she is too concerned with judging the freethinking and nonreligious style of my children to be present to embrace simple love from my children.  That is sad, but I believe the more powerful forces circulate beneath the superficial.

    • RiaD on May 11, 2008 at 15:04

    this is lovely kitty…

    thank you


  2. the source. the beginning of the universe. wish our moms were still here, NPK.

    nice piece.

  3. for this.  Happy Mother’s Day to all!

  4. I’ll be passing the proclamation along to some people I know.

    Women in Black

  5. Photobucket

    • kj on May 11, 2008 at 17:58

    i believe there was a call for a rec button?  

    i don’t SEE a rec button!

    • kj on May 11, 2008 at 20:27

    to rec a book, but this one: “Motherless Daughters” by Hope Edelman, was what finally allowed my sisters and me the opportunity to look at our grief and start the process of healing.  In our case, we’d stumbled 20+ years in darkness and silence before this book gave us permission to open up and talk.  It is one of the very books few I own in hardback.  I’ve only read it once.

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