Although the famous writer, poet, and suffragist Julia Ward Howe campaigned internationally for her aims and an International Women’s Peace Congress, her vision for a special day never achieved official recognition. Decades later, a woman named Anna Jarvis, who had lost her mother in 1905, campaigned for a national Mother’s Day on which adult children showed gratitude to their mothers.
Also an active feminist, Jarvis, like Howe, viewed homemakers’ right as central to feminism—feminism always has stood for homemakers’ rights, even 1970s second-wave feminism held this as a core tenet, despite the media’s confusion about this. Regardless, appreciating your mom, rather than protesting war, was less political, and so this incarnation of Mother’s Day caught on more easily.
Do you have a favorite gift from your mother? An object, a trip you took, a way of being that comes directly from her? After my mother died, I became obsessed with a beautiful scarf she gave me several years before, her last present to me—which you can see part of in the picture to the right. I wore the scarf around my neck in winter and got compliments often. Whenever I thought I'd lost it, I panicked, but I never spoke to anyone about what it meant to me—because I couldn't put my complex feelings into words.
Last year I began to wonder if other women had such a gift from their mothers, and I asked thirty remarkable women that question. Here are their answers.
A Literary Picture Show is an innovative eBook containing poetry, video, soundtrack music, original music, audio monologues, and illustrations. John Hospodka tells the stories of the “creative and culturally curious” residents of the fictional Chicago neighborhood of “Hardscrabble,” based on the real Pilsen and Bridgeport neighborhoods of the city’s South Side.
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