On Motherhood and Otherhood

It’s time to expand who we think of when we think of who is considered a mother

Marla Rose
5 min readMay 6, 2021
The author with a rescued veal calf at Farm Sanctuary in 1998

Guess what? Sunday is Mother’s Day. As if you didn’t notice with the not-so subtle prompts in your email, the bouquet gauntlet at the checkout counter, the texts with family, nothing stops Mother’s Day, not even pandemic times, and the second Sunday of May is just a few days away.

It’s a little known but interesting fact that Mother’s Day has its roots in social justice and activism, not flowers and Hallmark cards. In fact, the campaign to create a national holiday to honor mothers was hijacked by then-President Woodrow Wilson and the woman who was the driving force behind the original effort, Anna Jarvis, was bitterly disappointed by the hackneyed, commercial holiday it became.

Anna Jarvis was a pioneering editor but more than anything, she was a devoted daughter who believed that mothers like her own deserved to be honored. Ann Maria Jarvis, Anna’s mother, was also a trailblazer, one lit from within with a passion for helping to save lives. As an Appalachian mother who lost more than half of her children before they reached adulthood to diseases like measles and diphtheria, Ann campaigned tirelessly throughout her community as a public health advocate to provide critical support to local families to decrease…