On Sunday, millions will celebrate Mother’s Day and honor the women in their lives who have done their best to ensure that they experienced love, joy and happiness during their childhood years. I, too, will be celebrating Mother’s Day and will join millions of women who will be honored for their service, sacrifice, and self-less love. However, I will be celebrating with a different joy than most; although I am a celebrated mother, I have never given birth to a child.
To begin, Anna Jarvis is recognized as the founder of Mother’s Day. Her original inspiration was her own mother, Anna Marie Jarvis, an activist and social worker who had a strong desire to have mothers all over the world (living and deceased) honored. She wanted to ultimately pay tribute to the contributions made by these women who often went underappreciated for their service.
Anna never forgot her mother’s wishes. After her mother’s passing in 1905, Anna and other supporters wrote letters to people in a position of power to lobby for the official declaration of a Mother’s Day holiday. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. She had fulfilled her mother’s wishes.
Although Anna Jarvis is recognized as the founder, she never married and never gave birth to a child. Her efforts have made mothers all over the world proud.
Although, I, too, have never given birth to a child, I stand with the hundreds of Georgian foster mothers who have stood in gap to be temporary mother figures to a child in state custody. After 62 foster children, and one adopted so far, I also recognized a need and fulfilled a request. As one of my sons told me, “If you are hungry, do you really care who feeds you? You just want to eat!”
They need to eat – physically, spiritually, emotionally – and it is up to us (the community) to feed them. There are many ways to be a mother figure in the life of a youth and it doesn’t always mean they have to live with you. This is my road, but it is not for everyone.
So as we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, please join me in celebrating EVERYONE who serves as a mother figure to a child. You may have been a mentor, neighbor, friend of a parent, or a community advocate. You may have spoken life to a dying spirit and rejuvenated a spark. You serve and work towards ensuring that a youth can blossom into a happy individual. You created memories that will last a lifetime and advocate to ensure that their needs are met. You met the need of a child and their life has changed as a result. You FED them.
May is not only Mother’s Day, but it is also National Foster Parents Month. It is a time that we honor our foster parents, those who listened to their hearts which sometimes conflicted with their minds and knew it was something they were called to do. It is a hard job, but a heart job. It takes a loving, caring heart to be a mother, but it also takes a loving caring heart to be a successful foster mother.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who has ever fed a child; It is your day as well and you are appreciated.
Carol Wyre is the Character and Leadership Director at the A.R. “Gus” Barksdale Boys & Girls Club in Conyers and a therapeutic foster parent for Elks Aidmore located in Conyers.