It’s the season for soft greens, purples, blues and pink (lots of pink) balloons, cards, candy, and ribbons. Not only is it spring, but it is Mother’s Day along with Teacher Appreciation, Nurses Appreciation, Administrative Assistant Appreciation and Social Worker Appreciation. Aside from the observation that all of these traditionally female dominated, under-paid, over-worked careers are lumped together leading to a frenzy of card buying / giving by women for women … (I digress), I don’t think that the Founding Women of Mother’s Day would go for the colors.
Motherhood is a bold and fierce undertaking. When I delivered my first baby I saw burnt orange…the power of the experience, the connection it gave me to women around the world, and my sense that I was a warrior woman was not a muted color. Nor was the feeling I had when I looked into my daughter’s eyes and my heart exploded into sparks of silver and gold. And as my heart came back together it was indigo as I knew that I would do anything for this child – offer my life to save hers in a second… without an instant’s hesitation. As I know my mother would for me.
Once my heart was split open to the universe, I began to see charcoal when I read about mothers losing children, children losing mothers, toddlers, teens and women being hurt, abused and broken. I see scarlet (almost every day of late) at the policies being perpetrated that keep women and children, particularly those who are poor and/or of color, behind, below and beyond reach of the resources and rights they need to reach their full potential for health, wealth and joy. What would Julia Ward Howe, suffragist, poet, pacifist and a Mother’s Day founder think about how we do or as more often the case do NOT use our collective voices as women to call attention to the issues that matter most?
Whether the focus is a child, a partner, a best friend or an important cause, mothering takes courage, persistence, unbending love, and the willingness to get really messy. I see flames of fushia and cerulean blue. It requires self-reflection, a sense of humor, and the energy to hold center in the middle of the storm. Motherhood calls us to practice deep compassion. Forest green…midnight blue.
There is nothing pastel about listening to the soul deep pain of someone who has been hurt, teaching someone to read and think for themselves, waking up night after night to care for a crying baby, comforting a friend or partner who has lost a job or hope, and watching someone you love learn hard lessons, grow up and move away. Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker who organized Mother’s Work Days to avert deaths from disease-bearing insects living in neighborhood polluted water, and in 1868 took the initiative to heal the bitter rifts between her Confederate and Union neighbors, could likely relate to the crimson and golden rod hue of civic engagement and just getting things done. As could her daughter who got the President to make Mother’s Day official.
Let’s take back this day and lift up our voices in a BOLD kaleidoscope of deep and strong colors. We need to raise the Mothers’ call for peace to include the many wars that are waged every day – in our homes, in our streets, in boardrooms and politician offices. As Julia Howe said, “why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?” Mothers are rising in the South in a blaze of magenta. Join us!