The Power of Mothers



You know we have great moms. You know we aspire to be great like them. On Sunday we will celebrate them in love and thanksgiving.

We will also patiently endure the love offerings of our own chicken nuggets. At the dinner table this week, Kate asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I said “No jewelry. No appliances. Nothing for the kitchen.” And she turned her face to me, sweet forehead all scrunched up and asked “Well, what’s left?”

Did you know that the original idea for Mother’s Day was never meant to be about mothers?

It was supposed to be for mothers, a day when mothers all over the world came together to use their collective voice for peace.

I learned this from Glennon at Momastery.

Julia Ward Howe issued “An Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World” in 1870. It reads:

Arise, then, Christian women of this day ! Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears ! Say firmly : We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence vindicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of council.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take council with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

— Julia Ward Howe

What happened next was that, because she was a woman and a suffragette and she spoke the family business of her repressive marriage outside the bedroom, she was generally ignored.

Almost 40 years later, on May 10, 1908, Anna Jarvis observed the first Mother’s Day at her church. It was in honor of her mother, and again an effort to put the role and voice of mothers in the forefront of society. Her version was more palatable, and Mother’s Day became an official observance in 1914.

Then Hallmark realized there was money to be made and the rest is ugly history.

I don’t know any mother who says “Yippee! Mother’s Day!” For me, that’s because the rewards of my motherhood seem to flow towards me more than from me on any given day, to the point that I honestly feel I should thank my children for the love and joy they bring to my life.

But this iteration of Mother’s Day, as a call to action and justice—that feels real to me. It feels important. It feels powerful.

Mothers are powerful. Yes, we are. Helicopter moms and grizzly bear moms and tree hugger moms and granola moms and stay at home moms and working moms—we have some power.

This year, let’s use it. After church and the brunch and the school crafts and the “gifts” have been attended, eaten and opened—find a way to use your power.

Donate to Glennon’s Compassion Collective, which is feeding 6000 families every day.

Adopt a child from World Vision and become a “mother” for a child stuck in grinding poverty.

Send an email to the presidential candidate you support and the one you dislike the most and tell them why. Ask them to advocate for kids and peace.

Decide that this is the year you will become a Sunday School teacher or choir director or troop leader or coach and be an important adult in the lives of someone else’s kids.

Commit to a month of rosaries, asking the Blessed Mother to bring peace and love to this world.

Mothers are powerful and the world needs us.

Happy Mother’s Day.





For You and For Pam and For Me ~ Jen

Dana’s dad, Allen Builteman, passed away on Saturday, May 11, 2013.

Dana might tell the story someday. It’s beautiful. He died peacefully surrounded by the ones who loved him most.

Dana and I had big plans for Mother’s Day on this blog. We have amazing moms. We were going to talk about them.

But then Allen got so sick. And my mom, God bless her, said “Spend the day with your family. We’ll celebrate my Mother’s Day another day”. So I am not going to talk about my mom, Terri, or Dana’s mom, Pam. This week has brought us a little too close to the sacred space of parents, and there just aren’t good or adequate words for us right now. I’ll ask you to pray for them, though. Especially Pam.

When I talked to Dana yesterday morning, she said to me “Have a happy Mother’s Day for me.”

Ok, I thought. I will, dammit. For you and for Pam and for me.

So we went here.


This is Coronado, Ca, one of my favorite beaches in the world. It’s worthless during the month of June and half of July because of gloom. But May can be beautiful.


And this is the world famous Hotel Del Coronado. The Del is over 100 years old and one of the largest all-wooden buildings in California.  The lobby is unbelievable. And yes, it is haunted.


The water was Hawaii clear. This is not normal for California. And my legs are not that white. It’s the Instagram.


It never fails that every time we go, Kate will scream “MOM! GOLD!!!” I don’t know what that is in the sand and I am too tired to look it up. But it’s cool.

Lastly, there’s this. I think the Del owns the beach in front of the hotel and they oh-so-nicely put a bar right on the boardwalk. So we got these. Seemed right.


For Allen. For Dana and for Pam and for me. For Terri. For all moms. For all dads. For that sacred space that is our parents. For the love of God.

And for beautiful days at the beach.