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Empowering Women

May 13, 2013

If you research the history of Mother’s Day, you may find the need to reconsider the full significance of the day. While we all take part in the traditions of the day to some degree, either by preparing breakfast or treating mom to a wonderful Sunday brunch, bringing her flowers, finding the right card with just the right sentiment, phone calls from those separated by distance, or for the more creative type, personalized gifts; very few of us know much about the real roots and intent of the holiday.

Anna Jarvis, an activist empowering women, organized a “Mother’s Work Day” in 1858 to prevent disease and death by improving sanitation in the work place. Then nearly 50 years after her death, her daughter Anna began a campaign to honor her mother’s activism and in 1914, Congress finally passed a Mother’s Day resolution.

After the end of the bloody Franco-Prussian War, Boston poet and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic and women’s suffragist and pacifist, Julia Ward Howe, established a special day for mothers and for peace in 1872. Her belief was that the women who gave birth to the boys whose blood was spilled so senselessly during the war, could unite and put an end to all the unnecessary killing.

19th Century Women

Fast forward 250+ years from the time Anna Jarvis first empowered women and organized “Mother’s Work Day.” Our celebrations have become much more nuclear. We honor and remember the special women in our personal lives, our family and extended family members, maybe even our neighbors or a handful of other significant women in our lives.

Sadly, it seems as if we have lost site of the bigger picture, empowering women by celebrating and honoring strong ladies everywhere. We can, however, connect the two views if we think of all the tremendously strong and amazing women we know.


Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to say that the first strong woman we knew was our own mother. I know for myself, it has taken me a very long time to be able to realize that although she may not have been strong in many aspects, my mother was one of the strongest women I have ever known. She never had a steady job, but back then the role for most women was to stay at home and raise the children. My mother’s strength was in her enduring, her surviving. Whatever life threw her way, and I know that I will never fully know all that entailed, she endured. She never was given the chance to know herself fully, her life didn’t present her with that type of luxury. But she stayed true to whatever little pieces of herself she may have found throughout her life. And that represents a very special kind of strength. I know now, and it took me a very long time to fully embrace this that she did all that she could with what she had been given. I would give anything to be able to tell her that I know that today, this Mother’s Day.

Both my grandmothers were remarkably strong woman. Although I never saw it as strength when I was growing up, looking back on it now, one grandmother’s devotion to her husband and children showed the kind of strength that we would be hard-pressed to find in today’s world. As the story goes, she literally sold the fillings from her teeth to make sure there was food on the table for her family of 8 during the Great Depression when my grandfather lost his job.

My other grandmother survived the atrocities of Adolph Hitler’s Germany, immigrating to America and persevering in her new life in the new world. She truly was a stranger, speaking a strange language in a strange world; yet she not only survived, she thrived. Strength? Yeah, I would say so!

And there have been other remarkable women who have influenced my life. There are teachers that I have had; women who managed classrooms upwards of 25 students and I mean managed. They not only handled behaviors in the classrooms, they actually connected with us and truly taught us about life.

My aunts all had determination and strength that, as I look back on now, I marvel at. They overcame obstacles, each one with her own individual, amazing story of strength and determination.

My list of remarkable women wouldn’t be complete without my mentioning one particular friend that my mother had when I was growing up. She defines the word strength. She was diagnosed with lung cancer back at a time when the rate of survival was virtually non-existent. She was told she had six months to live but managed to keep active and survive for more than 18 years. She worked along side her husband every day and raised her grandson all on her own when her daughter, who was addicted to drugs, was unable to care for him. She never complained. On the contrary, she always made people laugh and smile. To this day, I consider her one of the most remarkable people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

There are more remarkable women in my life, women who I developed relationships with as I got older. One served as a Chaplain in the Gulf War, one has managed to find the strength to survive and keep moving forward, even after her son of 18 years went missing years ago, and to this day, has never been found.

My sister is tremendously strong, capable and efficient in business, in managing her home, and in raising one of the youngest, strongest women I know – my niece; on her way to graduating college with a Masters Degree in art therapy, after miraculously surviving a near-death bout with meningitis.

There is no reason to need a special day every to honor and appreciate all the strong women in our lives. They are all around us. All you have to do is think about it and you’ll be amazed at how many you know in your own life. In fact, there’s a very good chance that you are one of them. So to all the wonderful, strong women out there….HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!


I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!


From → Ramblings

  1. Beautifully written! I did find one flaw; you did not mention yourself. You are a very strong woman as well – all your strong ancenstors did not skip over you! You have oven-come many emotional and family struggles and also earned your Master’s in social work while working full time. You are a foster mother of teenage boys and run an very busy household. You belong on this article as well. 🙂

    • Aren’t you the sweetest! This is a lovely comment. I’m glad you liked it. Thank you so much!

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