Celebrate, Learn & Grow this Mother’s Day (with Ideas, Journaling Prompts and More)

Mother's Day Ideas with Mother and Daughter hugging outside

Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate peace, spring and mothers—and it’s now celebrated across nearly 50 countries.

I believe being a mother (or parent) is the most challenging ‘job’ there is. And it’s unpaid work. Being a mother is often done in conjunction with paying jobs, household chores and the myriad other tasks that a mom must juggle within the family. So today is the day we honour motherhood!

The phrase “working mother” is redundant. Jane Sellman

In this article, we explore the origins of Mother’s Day including Julia Ward Howe’s “Mother’s Day Proclamation”, 15+ ideas to make this Mother’s Day your own, plus powerful Mother’s Day reflection questions/journal prompts to explore the ideas of motherhood, mothering—and how we can learn to mother (and take better care of) ourselves.

Below you’ll find:

“Mother” is also a verb

While Mother’s Day may be all about mothers as “nouns”—the word mother is also a verb.

The act of mothering is to care for someone or something as if you were their mother: with tenderness, care and affection. It also means being kind and protective—Fiercely Kind as needed.

Good mothering is powerful, leaving us feeling safe, secure and loved. It protects us, and gives us the confidence and inner strength to make our way in the world. And good mothering is there to support us when we fail and/or struggle in life.

But whether your mom was the ideal mom you needed growing up (or not), we can learn to mother ourselves.

Which means that no matter whether you have a mom or not, or whether your relationship with your mom is complicated, you can still celebrate Mother’s Day in your own way.

Jump straight to the 15 Ways to Make Mother’s Day your Own or the powerful Reflection Questions and Journaling Prompts

The Origins of Mother’s Day

In Europe, mothers have been celebrated for well over 2000 years

Did you know that both ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated mother goddesses in the springtime? And that early Christians celebrated the Virgin Mary on the 4th Sunday in Lent (the 40 day period that leads up to Easter). In fact in England and much of Europe, Mother’s Day has been celebrated on this day as far back as the 1600s.

The origins of Mother’s Day in North America

But in North America, it was Julia Ward Howe who sowed the inspiration for Mother’s Day with her famous proclamation written in 1870 (see below). This inspiring appeal was written in reaction to the death and carnage following both the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War.

Julia Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation

Appeal to womanhood throughout the world

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.” Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means Whereby the great human family can live in peace, Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask That a general congress of women without limit of nationality May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient And at the earliest period consistent with its objects, To promote the alliance of the different nationalities, The amicable settlement of international questions, The great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe

Julia’s appeal to women only later became known as “The Mothers Day Proclamation” because in 1872 she suggested a day to officially celebrate mothers. Julia campaigned for an official celebration of a Mother’s Day on June 2 dedicated to peace—and succeeded in Boston. Eventually her idea spread and was replaced by the current Mother’s Day celebrated in May.

The official founding of Mother’s Day in America

But it was Anna Jarvis who became the official founder of Mother’s Day in the USA—even though she never married or had children.

The inspiration for Anna was her own mother, an activist and social worker who wanted to honour and pay tribute to the contributions made by mothers everywhere. So when Anna’s mother died in 1905, Anna began to campaign and write to people in positions of power asking for an official recognition of a Mother’s Day holiday.

Finally in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in America.

It did not all go well

Sadly, by the 1920s, Anna was upset by the commercialization of Mother’s Day. She trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day” and created the Mother’s Day International Association. She also got arrested once for disturbing the peace!

But Anna and her sister Ellsinore died in poverty after spending their family inheritance campaigning against what the holiday had become. I wonder what she would make of Mother’s Day today…

How could you make a difference?

Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis were two amazing women who made a difference—and left their mark on the world—before women even had the right to vote.

It makes me wonder how I, how you, could make more of a difference? Perhaps we can do more than we think?

Yes, Mother’s Day has become commercialised

There is no doubt that, just like Christmas, Cinco de Mayo, Valentine’s Day and many others, Mother’s Day has become super-commercialised.

And this can lead to guilt—after all whose mother (or even ourselves!) would not feel piqued not to receive a card on this well publicised day?

Remember that Mother’s Day is not a celebration for everyone…

Mother’s Day is not a celebration for all. If you don’t have a mom it may be a painful reminder. Some people have complicated relationships with their moms. Some people desperately want children and can’t have them. And what if, as a mom, you’re estranged from your children?

However, whatever your circumstances this Mother’s Day, there are ways you can make it a day of celebration—and if not, into a day of learning and growth.

Here are 15+ ways to make Mother’s Day your own, whatever your circumstances

Whether you are a mother, have a mother or don’t, like your mother or not, there are many ways to make Mother’s Day work for you:

Instead of buying elaborate gifts

  1. Spend a day or a few hours of quality time with your mom. What does she most like to do?
  2. Watch a woman-power movie together, like these recommended for International Women’s Day!
  3. Start an annual ritual where you spend time together (going to the spa, cooking a favourite meal, going for a walk and brunch etc.).
  4. Go deep! Ask your mom about her mom. What was her experience growing up? What did she choose to do differently as a mom and why? What is a story she hasn’t told you before?

If you can’t meet up with your mom

  1. A phonecall or handwritten card with a thoughtful expression of love and/or appreciation.
  2. Co-watch a movie she loves together.
  3. Or use Mother’s Day to co-plan and arrange your next visit with your mom!

If you have a tricky relationship with your mom

Well, you’re an adult—you get to decide. Obviously you can make a short phonecall, send a simple message or card. But how about:

  1. Celebrate the “ultimate” mother instead: Mother Nature. Try forest bathing, go for a beautiful walk, listen to the birds, stare at the ocean or something else.
  2. Do you have a good friend whose mothering skills you admire? Could you offer to help their family create a wonderful Mother’s day for your friend (and maybe even tag along too)?
  3. Choose not to do anything at all—and take care of you instead:
    • What would it look like to mother yourself today?
    • What would you LOVE to do today? ***And most importantly, go and do it guilt-free!

If Mother’s Day is challenging or hard for you

  1. Do something fun, or something that takes care of—and honours—you.
  2. Do some self-growth: Explore what mothering means to you. What do you need? What is missing? What do you wish for? How could you learn to mother yourself?

And what if your mom is no longer around?

  1. Honour your mom with a day of reflection: Journal or write a poem.
  2. Write out a short piece of memoir—remembering a time when your mom really surprised or came through for you.
  3. Do something your mom loved to do—in her memory.
  4. Make a donation to a charity your mom loved.

Now it’s time to reflect, learn and grow with the questions and journaling prompts below.

Journaling Prompts for you this Mother’s Day!

Here are some questions for you to reflect on or journal around:Hand with Butterflies

Write honestly and from the heart—don’t be afraid to explore any negative or challenging associations as well as the positive.

IMPORTANT: If you’re a mom yourself, remember (when appropriate) to consider your role both as a mom and daughter.

  1. What does Mother’s Day mean to you?
    • When you think of Mother’s Day, what comes up for you?
    • What inspires you (historically or in the present) about this day of celebration?
  2. How does Mother’s Day make you feel?
    • What feels good and why?
    • What does not feel good and why? What (if any) fears, angers, resentments or something else need kindness and acknowledgement on this day?
  3. What does mothering mean to you personally?
    • Consider these aspects of mothering (the verb): tenderness, care, affection, unwavering support, kindness, protectiveness.
    • What kind of mothering do you need?
    • What type of mothering is missing in your life?
    • What do you (secretly) wish for?
    • How could you do this for (mother) yourself?
  4. Whether you’re a mother or not, whether other people honour you or not, celebrate you!
    • Who have you helped and supported to learn and grow?
    • What challenges have you personally overcome?
    • Where should you be proud of yourself?
  5. Mother yourself now!
    • Where could you be more accepting of yourself, as you are?
    • Where should you be more kind to yourself?
    • What help or support do you want or need? And how could you give that to yourself?
    • When and where in your life could you simply take better care of yourself?
  6. If you are a Mother:
    • How are you a wonderful mom? What are you best mothering skills?
    • What, about being a mom, is most challenging to you? And how could you ask for support from your children, partner or community?
    • What would you (secretly) like to improve?
    • Where do you need to simply stop and appreciate yourself more as a mom?
    • How will you celebrate and acknowledge yourself this Mother’s Day?
  7. As you look ahead in your life
    • What opportunities are there for you to learn to mother yourself? And how do you think this will benefit you?

Wrap-upFierce Kindness Logo

These days, Mother’s Day is hugely popular—and many feel over-commercialised—as people are encouraged to spend, give flowers, cards and countless other gifts.

Yet Mother’s Day is still an important honouring of motherhood, both of our moms—and ourselves if we are a mom. Mothers around the world are key in raising the next generation of humans, and it’s difficult, under-appreciated work.

We don’t have to buy into the hype—but be sure to celebrate, or use the time to reflect and grow: Make Mother’s Day work for you.

Change the world. Start with you!

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Image of Mother and Daughter outside for Mother’s Day Ideas by Kraken Images

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