Cards reflect mothers' roles

Fifty Mother's Days ago, choosing a card for mom would have been relatively easy. Domesticity reigned. Rosie the Riveter and millions of other working women had been sent home after World War II. At the same time, the GI Bill was making the dream of home ownership a reality. The nation was nesting.

No wonder Mother's Day cards featured domestic motifs - a stove, an apron, a teapot, a mother sewing or reading to her children - all reflecting women's primary role at home.

Twenty-five years later, Mother's Day cards began hinting at changing roles.

"You start to see Mother get out of the house," says Sharman Robertson, corporate archivist at Hallmark. "Her roles are shown moving into the workplace or liberating herself." On one 1970s card, a mother is taking part in a protest march. On another, in the 1980s, "she's the Statue of Liberty, but cooking at the same time."

Today, several social revolutions later, Mother's Day cards celebrate a multitude of roles. A thoroughly modern mom carries a cellphone. She has a computer. And she gets described in terms once reserved for men.

Noting the changing language of Mother's Day cards, Ms. Robertson says, "In the past, a lot of cards have been very sweet, with mother seen as protector and nurturer. As we move forward, we see stronger adjectives reflecting mother, like the type of things you might see associated with maleness and strength. They say, 'You are my role model' and 'You are my rock and my hero,' which you never saw in the past."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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