The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Cary Brunswick

May 10, 2008

Mothers did travel rough roads

Though it's looking increasing unlikely that we'll have a mother as president next year, it has been exciting to have the first woman and mother to be so close to earning the Democratic nomination.

The fact that so many voters _ and not only women _ have supported Hillary Rodham Clinton's candidacy says quite a lot about how our nation has changed over the past several decades.

But as this Mother's Day 2008 arrives Sunday, the lights have certainly dimmed on the possibility of a woman and mother moving into the White House not as a first lady, but as commander-in-chief.

The status of women as mothers has changed as much as their status in society.

The origin of Mother's Day can be traced to 100 years ago today, when Anna Jarvis organized observances in Grafton, W.Va., and Philadelphia on May 10, 1908. Within six years, Congress was convinced to make the observance a national event.

Over the decades, the day has become more commercial, but hardly a person is going to say something bad about anything to do with mothers. Mother's Day is one special day that will always escape even the worst cynics.

The nature of ``mother'' and motherhood, however, has changed enormously during the past century.

For one thing, in 1914, when the government assigned national significance to a day honoring mothers, women _ and therefore, mothers _ could not vote. They had to wait another six years for that right _ and in a democracy it is indeed a right _ to be granted.

Since women were virtually second-class citizens without that right to vote, it is understandable why Jarvis might try to coordinate some kind of recognition for motherhood, since even men had to acknowledge its importance.

And for a woman at that time, being a wife and a mother provided much of her meaning in life. Now, not nearly as many women are having children as those did just three decades ago, let alone 100 years ago.

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Cary Brunswick

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