A Woman’s Work …

From a modern perspective, the following sentiment may seem a trifle patronizing. But in an era marked by the one-career family — and clearly defined gender roles — this appreciation of moms everywhere was heartfelt and, we have to say, charming. Read the backstory on Mother’s Day here.

For Most Mothers It’s “Mother’s Day” All the Year Round

By Richard Attridge
Originally published on May 11, 1957.

A 1950s mother handing her son a glass of lemonade on a summer day
George Hughes, © SEPS

For days leading up to Mother’s Day, there will be a run on flowers, candy, and other gifts, and millions of telephone calls, telegrams, and greeting cards will crisscross the entire nation. Kids at home will make special efforts to be thoughtful and considerate, and sons and daughters who are away on their own will make long journeys, if necessary, to get back to the old home and pay their loving respects to the actual “first lady” in their lives.

The real heart of the matter, however, is that “every day is mother’s day,” and she usually observes it in her own less glamorous way: by washing and ironing, cooking and sewing, dusting and cleaning, waxing and polishing, shopping, planning, economizing, tending the furnace and the babies, worrying about her teenagers, teaching the kids their manners, and generally encouraging, exhorting, and living for all her family. A great many mothers whose children are in school have also managed to take on part-time jobs, so that time won’t hang heavy on their hands.

Apart from these routine aspects of the average mother’s day, she has her own “memorable occasions” which aren’t celebrated nationally, but always remain in the calendar of her memory: the first time she looks at her first little one in the hospital; the day any of the kids take those first wavering steps on their own two legs; the day they actually begin to talk; the day they start off bravely, spick and span, for the first grade, and then have their first date, and graduate, and get engaged and marry and have kids of their own.

All sons and daughters — and husbands, of course — gladly and happily celebrate official Mother’s Day, maybe serve her breakfast in bed, buy her presents, and go to a lot of trouble to get home if they can, or send messages. Just the same, it wouldn’t hurt any of us to keep in mind that in a different sense “every day is mother’s day” — and one of the wonderful things about her is that she wouldn’t have it different.