Listen to the Mothers of the World!

Mother’s Day was officially established in the United States in 1914 as a day to honor and publicly express love and appreciation to the mothers of America. As early as 1870, Julia Ward Howe attempted to organize such a day worldwide to promote peace.

During the same time, Anna Reeves Jarvis tried to organize a similar day to reunite families separated by the Civil War, but it wasn’t until Anna M. Jarvis, the daughter of the earlier Anna, organized a service in 1908 in the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, WV, that the observance really took hold in the United States.

Honoring mothers is not exclusive to the U.S. culture. Ancient Greeks and Romans had a special day for paying tribute to mothers. Many cultures around the world pay respect to mothers through various observances and celebrations.

But is honoring – in the sense of showing respect and love – enough? Isn’t it time we listen to the mothers of the world and be in solidarity with their concerns and dreams?

Listen: I am a mother of two grown sons. I am 87 years old and live by myself in a small town. Everyone thinks I’m very independent and I am. But there are times I am lonely, wishing my family was closer. There are times I am afraid – afraid for myself because I know there may come a time that I can’t care for myself. What will happen to me and my sisters worldwide who are the seniors of society?

Listen: I am the mother of teenagers. I’m worried and scared, and I’m not sure what to do. My youngest son is in trouble at school. He’s skipping, not doing his homework and failing his courses. The kids he’s running around with seem to be doing the same thing. Are they on drugs or dealing? I need help and so do all mothers facing these turbulent days.

Listen: I am a mother whose children are involved in the struggles for justice and freedom within our country. I believe in the goals for which we are fighting, but there are days when I wonder if all this violence is worth it. Can’t change and justice come in another way? I pray like all mothers that peace will come and come before it is too late.

Listen: I am a single mother trying to support myself and my daughter. My husband walked out several months ago because he had been out of work for two years. He couldn’t face seeing me working two low-paying jobs to keep food on the table. What am I to do? Will I have to go on welfare? What are my options?

Listen: I am a mother of three lovely children and my husband has a good job. I know my situation is better than most, but I am not spending my time feeling guilty. I am working with a group of women in my community to get a day-care center established. I’m also working as a child advocate for juvenile offenders in our court system.

Listen to the mothers of the world! Their cries of joy, pain, grief, hunger, despair and love echo in our ears. They are our mothers and grandmothers. They need us. Listen and act!

Note: First printed in Response, May 1993

Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence


Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.