Jane Carstens
Jeanette Edith Roderick 1937-1998.
05 May

Mother’s Day

This Sunday in Australia is Mother’s Day. A day when mothers are celebrated, and retailers market the day aggressively with the subliminal passive aggressive message; if you love your mum you will buy her a (preferably expensive) gift/s.

While it is a mostly joyful day for many people, it is also a day that those who have lost their mothers (motherless daughters or MDs) dread. As a member of the Facebook group Motherless Daughters Australia, I am privy to the outpouring of grief that this day brings. Post after post is a deluge of how to survive the day, how much they miss their mothers, and how hard the lead up to this day is for many. Most seem to be avoiding the shops because of all the reminders and are planning to spend the day honouring their mother quietly with a walk, or a picnic, or a visit to her grave.

However, many MDs simply cannot avoid the commercial aspects of it all, no matter how much they want to. One post that struck a chord with me was the MD who is a florist. She wrote that Mother’s Day is the second biggest day of the year for her business. She said she has to take the orders for the flowers and write the messages on the cards that go with them. She said she is holding it together during the day, but at night she is breaking down and crying. That is tough.

While mothers should be celebrated, and as my own mum used to say, it should be every day of the year, it is interesting to note that Mother’s Day was started by an MD in 1907.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica reminds us that Anna Jarvis from Philadelphia started it all.

Anna Jarvis, of Philadelphia, whose mother had organized women’s groups to promote friendship and health, originated Mother’s Day. On May 12, 1907, she held a memorial service at her late mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia. Within five years virtually every state was observing the day, and in 1914 U.S. Pres. Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday. Although Jarvis had promoted the wearing of a white carnation as a tribute to one’s mother, the custom developed of wearing a red or pink carnation to represent a living mother or a white carnation for a mother who was deceased. … What had originally been primarily a day of honour became associated with the sending of cards and the giving of gifts, however, and, in protest against its commercialization, Jarvis spent the last years of her life trying to abolish the holiday she had brought into being.

Clearly Anna didn’t succeed in abolishing the day, so we all need to make the best of it. Buy the card, ring her up, take her to lunch, and spoil your mum if she is alive (it doesn’t have to be with a present), and know that nothing lasts forever: including mothers. The day was started by a MD who knew the pain of losing her mother, and love or hate the day, at the very least I hope it serves as a reminder of how precious, yet fleeting, mothers can be.

Happy Mother’s Day Mum – my 23rd one without you. I love you.


That history is fascinating! I’m so lucky you’re my mum! Love you


That history is fascinating! I’m so lucky you’re my mum! Love you so much mum!


Thank you Jane – really interesting to hear how Mother’s Day started. I remember being younger & really wanting to live up to all the ridiculous hype created by the commercialism of the day.

Yes to celebrating mums every day.

And here’s a shout out to – dare I say it in this context? – those who have difficult or complicated relationships with their mothers. Who we love & are grateful for deep down, but would rather live on the other side of the globe from; where the expectations are gone & the sentiment can be expressed more freely & without the tricky strings …


I had never even stopped to think about the story behind Mother’s day. I really enjoyed learning about it!
Also adding a little shout out to all the non-official mothers in our lives. I know I’m lucky enough to have a handful of wonderful strong women who are second mothers to me.


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