Your morning alarm kicks on, its erratic beeping jolting you awake. You groan, glare at the clock, then flop over onto your other side. As you squeeze your eyes shut, you hope that one of your siblings will turn it off for you. Suddenly a thought strikes you, and before you have time to blink your vision clear, you’re shooting out of bed, slamming your hand down on the clock to turn it off, and yelling for your siblings to get up (and maybe giving them a rousing shake or two). Today is not a day to ignore your alarm. Not only do you have mass this morning, but it’s also a holiday: Mother’s day.

What meaning do these two words hold to rouse you so quickly from your morning stupor? And why do you come out of your room with them falling sing-song from your lips? Pretty easy to answer, right? “It’s Mother’s day!” I want to be up in time to make it special with hugs, presents, and (if you’re in my shoes) make sure the house is spic and span for when Mom leaves her room.

Yet how about this one: why have Mother’s day at all?

The very first command God gave to Adam and Eve was to “increase and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Obviously God must have thought parentage pretty important, since He put it at the top of the list! The majority of women, both then and today, follow this calling and raise families.

However, mothers are never without their trials. After Adam and Eve had committed the first sin on earth, God told Eve, “I will multiply thy sorrows… In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16). Motherhood is never easy! My Mom says it’s the most intense job out there – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Moms have to be cook, laundress, teacher, doctor, and counselor all rolled into one!

This constant being needed, the incessant calls of little ones and big ones alike, very often bring moms to the very end of their ropes. Yet no matter the trouble, there is almost always an underlying peace and satisfaction of a job well done that no career woman is ever able to experience. That’s because motherhood isn’t just a job, it’s a sacrifice, a complete and utter joyful giving of oneself for the sake of her little ones’ and husband’s needs, but most of all the needs if their souls. As Kathleen Norris wrote in her novel, Mother: “She knew that faithful, self-forgetting service and the love that spends itself over and over, only to be renewed again and again, are the secret of happiness.”

I find it anything but coincidental that mother’s day is set in May, the month of Mary. Mary, the greatest and holiest of all women ever born, chose motherhood over all else -to be the mother of Jesus Christ- and did it with every fiber of love in her immaculate heart. She sought nothing but to fulfil her God-given vocation to its fullest extent, and was perfectly content with that, and that alone. Serving Joseph and Jesus was her greatest delight. Why else would, “Holy Mother of God,” be the very second of Mary’s praises in just about every litany known to man?

We often have special holidays to celebrate the institution of great things, or to honor something someone has done for us. Our mother’s lives are one of the greatest things ever given to us by God, and they continue to bless us every day as they constantly give themselves for us in a million little ways. God gave us mothers to bring new life and souls into this world, to nurture and to instill in them a love for Him. What more could we do then, to thank both Him and our mothers than to set aside one day of the year to thank our mothers for all the trials, the pains, and the service they render unto us?

“Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her… Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her at the gates” (Proverbs 31:28, 31).

St. Monica, pray for us!