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In our opinion: Honoring our mothers

Published: Sunday, May 11 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Today is the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson's proclamation of the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. It need not be a burden for each us to express love, gratitude and understanding for the life and nurturing she has given us.

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Every one of us is born into this earth by a mother. Almost all of us are also raised up and cared for by a mother. Whether that mother is our biological mother or the mother of the family into which we have been adopted, a mom is irreplaceable. Hers is a daily role of sacrifice and giving to her children.

Recently, as a prank, a greeting card company posted an online job listing and conducted job interviews for a “director of operations" position at a company called Rehtom Inc. (“Rehtom” is “mother” spelled backward.) The requirements were brutal:

Standing up almost all the time.

Constantly exerting yourself.

Working from 135 to unlimited hours per week. “You can have lunch, but only when the associate is done eating their lunch.”

No vacations. In fact, the workload goes up during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and other holidays.

In the interviews, the actor quizzing the applicants said that “this position requires excellent negotiation and interpersonal skills. We are really looking for someone that might have a degree in medicine, in finance and the culinary arts. You must be able to wear several hats. The associate needs constant attention: sometimes they have to stay up with an associate throughout the night. Being able to work in a chaotic environment. If you had a life, we’d ask you to give that life up.”

The salary? Zero dollars

The fake job ad got 2.7 million impressions from paid ad placements, and 24 people inquired about it. Interviewed via webcam, their real-time reactions — and their expressions of gratitude when they got the “joke,” were captured on video now viewed by more than 18 million people.

As adults, or as children or teenagers with the capacity to read and reflect, we understand now what we could only imperfectly sense as children: that mothers give life. They provide the emotional warmth and the cocoon of protection in a family. Our memories of family life — precious and painful — are central to who each of us is today. And this is why the family, and a mother’s role in that family, is central to just about everything in life.

Mothers engender empathy, resilience and a sense of connectedness. They give us the human touch; the reassurance that we are loved, and not a strange being alone in the world. And yet in modern society, culture and government frequently seem to take the role of mothering for granted. By the time that offspring are adults – or even by the time they enter high schools, or grade school, it seems – our culture seems to say to mothers: “Your work is done.”

That view is clearly mistaken. Without mothers and the families that they engender, our society, our economy and government would suffer. We always need our mothers.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the year that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day. The president was prodded along in that proclamation by Anna Jarvis, known today as the “mother of Mother’s Day.”

Jarvis — naturally enough — was inspired by the example of her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis, a social activist and unifying force in her community of West Virginia during the Civil War. Her mother encouraged her to attend college, which she did at Mary Baldwin College, returning to Grafton, West Virginia, to work as a teacher. She remained close to her mother throughout her life.

Anna Jarvis later said that it was during one of her mother’s Sunday School lessons that Jarvis found her inspiration for Mother’s Day. Her mother closed the lesson with a prayer, stating, “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial Mother’s Day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”

Today is that special Mother’s Day. It need not be a burden for each of us, the child of a mother, to express love, gratitude and understanding for the life and nurturing she has given.

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