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A ‘thank you’ to all moms

Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff poses for this photo with his 91-year-old mother Henrietta Dalke.

I like moms.

In fact, I think all of us should have one.

My mom is a hero to me. She turned 91 last month and is amazing. She taught me important lessons, many of which I follow each and every day. My wife is an awesome mom to our children. While I like to say that we are “partners in parenting,” I know that it was her guiding hand that helped make our children the great adults they turned out to be.

And many of you can say the same things — and even more — about your moms.

But Mother’s Day?

It is actually a 20th-century creation, the brainchild of Anna Jarvis. Following her mother’s death in 1905, Jarvis imagined Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. In May 1908, she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. It was a great success. By 1912, Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Ironically, by 1920, she denounced the commercialization of the holiday and urged people to stop buying cards, flowers and gifts for the holiday. She went as far as to lobby the U.S. government to remove the date from the federal calendar.

For me, I would rather see a different Mother’s Day. It might happen once a year, or perhaps twice, or maybe even a dozen times. That’s because I believe that Mother’s Day should be celebrated on the day that one became a mother!

From the time our children were very young, I taught them that the first thing they had to do on their birthdays was to go find their mom and thank her for having them be born. Their birthdays were yes about them. But first and foremost, it was acknowledging who brought them into life and nurtured them.

Now not everyone has a biological birth mom they know or acknowledge. But all of us have someone who was that nurturing presence ... the one who kissed our bruised knees and wiped away our tears, who gave us those life lessons that made us who we are today. Those are our moms, regardless of their “official” status. It is as though they gave birth to us!

So, while I will call/write/see the women in my life who are moms on Sunday and will buy cards or send e-cards and wish them Happy Mother’s Day, I remain convinced that the real Mother’s Day for my mom should be on the day I was born. She should get the cards and the presents ... for without her around that day (and for the subsequent six-plus decades), I would not be who I am. And for who I am, I say to my mom — as we all do to those whom we call “Mom” — THANK YOU.