Mothering Sunday: Importance of Mothers’ Love

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By Akindoyin Aanuoluwapo


Who is a mother? A mother is a woman who gives birth or who has the responsibility of physical and emotional care for specific children.

There’s a poem we used to recite in primary school to appreciate our mothers, but as children, we don’t really know the value, I think that poem should be taken to the Universities, polytechnics, monotechnic, college of educations and other tertiary institutions, by then we would have grown and understood what it meant to have a mother, that time, the ladies are getting closer to motherhood and the men are getting closer to getting married.

The poem was written by Ann Taylor, “Who sat and watched my infant head, when sleeping in my cradle bed, and tears of sweet affection shed? My Mother”.

Many of us may never understood this poem as children in primary schools, but we as we grew and understood lives, then our eyes opened to how important our mothers are and we were able to appreciate them, no matter how they are or look after all they’ve passed through because of us.

The pivotal role of being a mother is still the divine mission assigned to women alone.

Another poet, William Ross Wallace in his poem ‘What Rules the World’, he said that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. This illustrates the influence a mother plays to her child and in the long run to the society; that as a mother strives to nurture and teach a child, she explicitly makes the world a much better place. Women are actually given an opportunity and a privilege by God to be His partner in giving life to another human being.

Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday in the UK and Ireland, is a day to show love, gratitude and appreciation to all wonderful mums everywhere, through acts of kindness and the giving of Mother’s Day gifts and flowers. Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day both have different origins; although they represent the same thing, they originated very differently. We all celebrate the day but very few people actually know its origin. The original meaning of Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day has been somewhat lost but it’s still a day to solely appreciate mum.

Mother’s Day celebrations date back as far as the ancient Greeks where they would celebrate Rhea, the Mother of the gods and goddesses, every spring with festivals of worship. The Romans also celebrated a mother goddess, Cybele, every March as far back as 250BC.

Mothering Sunday has been celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent, in the UK and Ireland, since the 16th century. The date varies in other parts of the world. Many countries follow the US and celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, whilst other countries enjoy the day on March 8th which is International Women’s Day.

Like many traditions and festivities, Mothering Sunday began with a religious purpose. Held on the fourth Sunday in Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday, it was a originally a day to honour and give thanks to the Virgin Mary, also known as Mother Mary.

Such celebrations required people to visit their ‘mother’ church – the main church or cathedral in a family’s area. The spread of Christianity throughout Europe in the 16th century increased the celebrations and firmly put Mothering Sunday on the calendar. It was believed to be essential for people to return to their home ‘mother’ church to make it a true family honoured occasion. The gatherings reunited families and gave children who worked as domestic servants, or as apprentices away from home (from as early as ten years old), the opportunity to have the day off to join their family and see their mother.

Throughout the year in England and Ireland people would regularly and devoutly visit their nearest chapel, their ‘daughter’ church, whereas on Mothering Sunday, as well as baptisms, people would visit their ‘mother’ church loaded with offerings of thanks. Such celebrations were similar to, and most likely adopted, the Roman ceremonies of the Mother Goddess. The religious day increased its scope from thanking Mother Mary to a ‘mother’ church celebration and finally opened up as an occasion to thank and appreciate all mothers; thus creating Mothering Sunday.

Whilst the day had a firm following for many centuries since the 16th century, by 1935 it started to decrease in popularity and was celebrated less and less in Europe, until WWII. The Americans and Canadians celebrated Mother’s Day during the war, feeling a crucial need to give thanks to their mothers whilst away at war. The Brits and other Europeans followed their comrades and they too gave thanks to their mothers; since then it earns pride of place on the UK calendar.

The US celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. The holiday was formed much later than Mothering Sunday, and was created in 1908 by a lady named Anna Jarvis from Grafton, West Virginia, in honor of her late mother. Jarvis pushed hard for a holiday to celebrate all mothers after the death of her own, and after lots of hard work, determination and promotion President Woodrow Wilson finally made it an official holiday for the US in 1914.

However, as the holiday grew more and more established it became more and more commercialized much to the disgrace of Jarvis, who named it “Hallmark Holiday”. Jarvis went on to oppose the day and regret what the day had turned into, and she died in 1948 very unhappy with what Mother’s Day had become. Nonetheless, in the US Mother’s Day still remains a popular holiday making it one of the biggest days for sales of flowers and cards.

As with any national holiday, Mother’s Day involves the giving of gifts and cards to show Mum how much she’s valued and appreciated. Traditionally Mother’s Day gifts included flowers and a Simnel cake. The flowers were picked by the workers on the way home from work for a day with their mum; they’d pick wild flowers from the country lanes. It is still a tradition today to spoil mum with a stunning colourful bouquet of flowers, as well as more modern gifts such as perfume, clothes or jewelry.

As with any national holiday, food always seems to take centre stage; Christmas dinner, Easter eggs, Valentine’s feast and Mother’s Day Sunday roast dinner. We love our food and the tradition it brings!

Mothering Sunday was once also known as ‘Refreshment Sunday’ it was the mid-lent Sunday where fasting could be ‘eased’ for the day and people could enjoy a delicious meal together as a family. It was an opportunity to temporarily indulge in some special rich food for the day breaking up the hard slog of lent. Traditionally, after church, families would gather for a Sunday dinner of either roast lamb or veal and mother would be made Queen of the feast. Similar to today, Mothering Sunday was all about spoiling mum and making her feel happy and appreciated.

Also, once known as ‘Simnel Sunday’, families would gather with freshly baked delicious Simnel cakes. Simnel cakes are made of two rich fruity layers that are boiled in water and then baked, before having almond paste spread on top and in the middle of the layers. Traditionally the cake would have been decorated with 11 balls of marzipan to represent the 11 disciples (not including Judas), whilst sugar violets were also a popular decoration for the cake. Such a treat midway through lent was greatly looked forward to.

Why the Simnel cake?The name Simnel probably comes from the Latin word simila which means a fine wheat flour usually used for baking a cake.

There’s a legend that a man called Simon and his wife Nell argued over whether the cake for Mothering Sunday should be baked or boiled. In the end they did both, so the cake was named after both of them: SIM-NELL.

Traditionally, it’s believed that bread was also freshly baked for mothers on Mothering Sunday. Children would awake early and get the bread in the oven so mums would wake to the beautiful aroma of fresh bread. Nowadays mums are either taken out for a special dinner or a home cooked Sunday roast dinner is enjoyed by the whole family – mums might even be cooking it themselves!

Take your mum for a treat today, being mothering Sunday, she has done a lot for you, she has been there for you since conception, even when you used to give her sleepless night in the womb, you gave her sleepless nights even after births, when others slept, she didn’t sleep, she watched over you.

You never knew what to say and how to say it, so, the only way to say it is by crying over and over again, she would do a lot of things for you till you were pacified.

What is the Love of a mother?

A mother’s love is like nothing else in the world. It’s both strong and gentle, loud and quiet, unrelenting and yielding, protecting and releasing, demanding and unassuming.

It’s one thing in one moment, and another in the next moment. It changes with a child’s needs, but is always there, unmoving, founded on the rock of the mother / child bond.

A mother’s love is different than flimsy affection: The love of a mother goes to extremes. She requires her children to read books, then submit book reports to her which she marks up, hoping they won’t notice she can’t read. She enforces them to do their assignments and finish up before they sleep so that they will be able to submit it the following day in school.

The love of a mother sacrifices her own security: She uses her own home as collateral to fight for her child. She makes sure she sacrifices her own security for her child/children, that’s why some of them stays in a marriage to keep their children, no matter what the marriage gives them from the husband or the in-laws.

The love of a mother is primal: When faced with grave danger, she stops at nothing – and spare no one – who threatens the lives of her children.

The love of a mother is sobering. Rose Colored Glasses give way to fear, worries, and doubts for her children’s safety because, now, life is about more than having a good time.

A mother’s love is different in different seasons: The love of a mother turns her attention to her little ones and away from former hobbies, interests, and pursuits that are too costly and self-focused.

The love of a mother makes time to pour into herself, knowing it’s the best thing she can do for her family.

The love of a mother says I will do that Big Thing later because, right now, I have more important work at home.

The love of a mother doesn’t use children as an excuse to put off the Scary Task she is called to do right now, knowing that the choices she makes now affect all her children’s futures.

A mother’s love helps her do the absolute best she can:The love of a mother nourishes her baby at her breast day to day – sometimes hour to hour – though she hasn’t had a full night’s rest in years.

The love of a mother accepts her child needs more nourishment and nutrients than she has to give, and thanks to God that formula is the best.

The love of a mother carefully selects ingredients and meals for her children to help them grow strong, healthy, and boost their immune system.

A mother’s love means different things to different women: The love of a mother helps her stay in a hard marriage when it’s best for the kids because she knows the security and well-being of her children is more important than feeling butterflies.

The love of a mother gives strength to overcome fear of the unknown and flee the family home for the sake of her children’s safety.

The love of a mother spends thousands of dollars each year to give her children the best opportunities and education money can buy.

The love of a mother sees her child’s spirit withering at school, and decides to homeschool her in a place of safety and belonging.

The love of a mother says I will keep you, raise you, and love you, though I am neither prepared nor ready for this job.

The love of a mother carries to full term only to give her baby to those who’ll raise him in a way she knows she cannot.

A mother’s love looks different in different places: The love of a mother will place her family on a boat to flee a war-torn country, risking peril in hopes of finding safe haven.

The love of a mother suppresses guilt and jealousy as she drops her baby off each morning at care. Wishing she could do that work, instead of the work that puts a roof over their heads.

The love of a mother sustains her when there is barely enough food to feed her children, much less leftovers.

The love of a mother says I will birth, love, and cherish you though my government considers you inferior.

The love of a mother says I don’t care what other people think or say about my choices. I will do what I think is best for you, even if it isn’t popular.

The love of a mother looks different in each woman, but deep down… it’s what unites them all.

My Mother, I love you, do you love yours? If you’ve despised your mother so much that you never spoke to her in years, this is the time to reunite with her, if you’ve disrespected your mother for so long that you don’t have any atom of respect for her anymore, this is the time to renew your love and respect for her.

If you despised your mother because of what she has done in the past, forgive her and love her, sometimes, some mothers do some things they are not proud of, just to make their children happy, sometimes, they go extra mile to make their children happy, sometimes, they sacrifice their meal and their happiness just to make their children happy.

What do you repay them with? Ingratitude? Disrespectfulness? Ungrateful attitude? Or do you isolate them due to what they have become?

Do more today, reunite with your mother and she will be happy you did, she will bless you when you appreciate her with the little or plenty that you will honour her with.

This is the full poem by Ann Taylor with Illustrations by Walter Crane

My Mother

Who fed me from her gentle breast,

And hush’d me in her arms to rest,

And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?

My Mother.

When sleep forsook my open eye,

Who was it sung sweet hushaby,

And rock’d me that I should not cry?

My Mother.

Who sat and watched my infant head,

When sleeping in my cradle bed,

And tears of sweet affection shed?

My Mother.

When pain and sickness made me cry,

Who gazed upon my heavy eye,

And wept for fear that I should die?

My Mother.

Who dress’d my doll in clothes so gay,

And taught me pretty how to play.

And minded all I had to say?

My Mother.

Who taught my infant lips to pray,

And love God’s holy book and day.

And walk in Wisdom’s pleasant way?

My Mother.

And can I ever cease to be

Affectionate and kind to thee,

Who was so very kind to me?

My Mother.

Ah, no! the thought I cannot bear;

And if God please my life to spare,

I hope I shall reward thy care,

My Mother.

Who ran to help me when I fell,

And would some pretty story tell,

Or kiss the place to make it well?

My Mother.

When thou art feeble, old, and gray,

My healthy arm shall be thy stay,

And I will soothe thy pains away,

My Mother.

And when I see thee hang thy head,

‘Twill be my turn to watch thy bed.

And tears of sweet affection shed,

My Mother.

For could our Father in the skies

Look down with pleased or loving eyes,

If ever I could dare despise

My Mother.

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