Nana, mama, maman, maji, madre, okaason or just plain mom. Whichever way you say it, it's her day — Mother's Day.
The origins of the spring celebration are credited mostly to three women, according to the National Women's History Project.
In 1872, Boston poet, pacifist and women's suffragist Julia Ward Howe established a special day for mothers — and for peace — not long after the bloody Franco-Prussian War.
Earlier, in 1858, Anna Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker, organized “Mother's Work Days” to improve the sanitation and avert deaths from disease-bearing insects and seepage of polluted water. Jarvis died in 1905, on the second Sunday in May, and her daughter, also named Anna, decided to memorialize her mother's lifelong activism and began a campaign to set aside a special day.
One thing is known for sure; the first Mother's Day was celebrated on May 9, 1914, after President Woodrow Wilson and Congress proclaimed the day as a public thank-you to all mothers.
Since then, Mom's role has changed. Few women worked outside the home in 1914 and none could vote. Today, working moms are in the majority and not only can mom vote, she has become a coveted political audience.
A recent survey has found mothers are overworked, underpaid and yet are the glue that holds many households together. As to their work, whether it occurs outside the home or at home, mothers would command a hefty salary if they were paid, according to a 2013 survey of 6,000 mothers conducted by Salary.com.
The survey took into consideration various tasks that moms do such as laundry and cooking (housekeepers earn an average $10.10 per hour), overall management (a facilities manager earns an average $31.59 per hour) and even psychology (psychologists earn an average $38.03 per hour).
Using these pay levels as guides, the survey found that stay-at-home moms should earn $113,586 a year — a 40-hours-per-week base salary totaling $37,549, plus 54 hours of weekly overtime totaling $76,037. Women with jobs outside the home would earn overtime for what they do when they get home.
Families, too, have changed. In 2014, they don't always reflect the dad and mom and two children formula once so prevalent. There are blended families or households overseen by single or gay parents. And many grandparents are raising second families.
Changes to families have resulted in mothers who come in all kinds of packages, said Karen Tongson, associate professor of English and gender studies at USC.
“The idea of motherhood no longer is attached to specific persons or bodies,” said Tongson, who grew up with two parents but also maintained a close relationship to her grandmother, and still does.
“That role can and has been adopted by many who aren't women,” she said. “Maybe we should be talking about the role of nurturer.”
Gender roles remain merely roles, she said. “Mother” can mean an older sibling, aunt or uncle.
“A nurturer is someone who feeds, holds and comforts,” Tongson said. “And it can take a wide range of competencies and skill sets.”
Observing Mother's Day is a custom Americans have grown used to and simply should be a day when people who want to can celebrate someone in their lives who has filled that place for them, she said.
Stacy Hinkel's resume includes experience as a sanitation engineer, soother, chef, housekeeper, disciplinarian, etiquette enforcer and nurse — and that just covers one aspect of how she spends her time.
She also is an exercise enthusiast, business owner and wife. But the one overall driving aspect of her life is her role as mother to two young children.
Hinkel owns Fit4Mom in Long Beach, which offers fitness programs for moms, as well as facilitates the Long Beach Stroller Strides and Plum Moms Club.
“I try to help other moms connect and provide outlets for them to go to and enjoy themselves,” Hinkel said. “I also have stroller classes, running and walking programs and body back classes because today's moms need somewhere to go where they can be a mom and be themselves, too.”
One hundred years ago, electronic gizmos and gadgets didn't compete for the hours wedged into each day. In 2014, moms have to figure out how much television, computer, cellphone, social media and extracurricular activity time is appropriate.
“It's always been difficult being a mom, but today it is very hard. We live in an age of Pinterest and Facebook, where some people take on the persona of being perfect, while most of us are just harried,” Hinkel said.
Shared time together is very important to Hinkel. She remembers her first Mother's Day right after her now 3-year-old daughter was born.
“I thought it was a much more important day than my birthday, but now with two children, I celebrate all the little moments together,” Hinkel said. “I look at them and the people they're becoming, and that's reward enough.”
Janeen Braham has accepted both gender roles in her household. She is Mom and Dad, juggling both responsibilities for years. She is a single mother to her 9-year-old son and 7-year-old twins, another son and a daughter.
“If I had to write a resume for myself, I think I would sum it up as CEO of everything,” she said. “I'm a life coordinator. Teacher. Often I'm their nurse. I work in a very demanding profession and never seem to have enough time, but my three children are my greatest accomplishment because they are turning into wonderful people.”
The Chatsworth mom does have help and considers it a blessing to have her mother living with the family. She has seen changes in the role of “mother” during her lifetime.
“The role has just gotten bigger,” she said. “It involves more than it did, at least for me, because I am a divorced, single mom. But also I think mothers today have career demands. There still is only 24 hours in a day. That hasn't changed, but how we allot our time has.
“I work in pharmaceutical sales and it's hard to balance my life,” she said. “In many households, the family unit has been fractured and that adds a different dimension to what it means to be a mother. Familial roles are changed.”
But Braham manages. She helps coach soccer and basketball with her children while still fulfilling the roles of nurturer and caretaker.
“When it comes down to it, it starts with mommy,” she said. “Society — and mothers, for that matter — still hold expectations about what it means to be a mother. But Mom is still a woman and she needs to remember she was a person before the children came and will be a person after they grow up and leave.”
Braham said she isn't expecting breakfast in bed or dinner out.
“My son the other day asked why we didn't play as many games as we used to,” she said. “So that's what I want to do for Mother's Day — spend a relaxing fun day with the kids and playing games.”