My mother saved my life

Anna Jarvis was by all accounts a ferocious lady.

In the spring of 1908, she held a ceremony to honour her late mother … and all mothers.

The day was deeply meaningful for her. So much so that she crusaded for a day that would pay homage to the all-too-often under-appreciated role that mothers play in our society.

In doing so, Anna Jarvis became the Mother of Mother’s Day.

Yet, just like Coca-Cola hijacked Christmas (ever wondered why Santa’s dressed in Coke’s corporate colours?), it didn’t take long for business to cash in and commercialise Mother’s Day.

Upon realising her precious day was being prostituted for profit, Jarvis simply shrugged her dainty little shoulders.

Oh NO she did not!

She lawyered the hell up and took on the suits: Jarvis believed she owned the intellectual property of Mother’s Day, and she defended her rights to the end. Newsweek reported that she once had as many as 33 simultaneous Mother’s Day lawsuits on the go.

She devoted the rest of her life — and every cent of her savings — to fighting for what she believed in.

Remember, this was back in the time before women were allowed to vote in the United States. Jarvis was just one woman taking on the might of huge conglomerates, with the sole and selfless aim of keeping her day pure.

So, on this Mother’s Day, in a hat tip to Anna Jarvis, we’re going to celebrate dedicated, courageous, ferocious mothers who never back down.

Tread Your Own Path!

P.S. And if you’ve bought your mum some chocolates, servo flowers or a Hallmark card, don’t feel too bad. While Anna Jarvis died stone cold broke in 1948, her medical bills were apparently paid for by “people in the floral and greeting card industries”. 

My Mother Saved My Life


My first memory of receiving advice from my mother was something along the lines of “don’t feed your sister found objects from the garden”. The second piece of advice was “always, ALWAYS, no matter what, have your own bank account, and always, ALWAYS, have enough savings to move in a hurry”. I happily fed my sister gravel for a while longer, but always kept my own bank account. When I was blindsided as a new mother by domestic violence, her advice got me out safely, quickly and untraceably.


Hey Sarah,

What a powerful story.

Your mum’s financial advice helped you and your child find safety.

And now you’re paying it forward …

See, this column is read by millions of people. So, statistically, there are thousands of women reading these very words who are in the dangerous situation that you once found yourself in.

Now maybe they didn’t have a wise mother like yours. And maybe they don’t have access to cash to make a quick escape. Yet what they need to hear on this Mother’s Day is that a lack of cash shouldn’t stop them from escaping.

That’s because there are amazing women who help mothers and their kids find safety and financial security, and they’re available 24/7. Just call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

How’s that for a Mother’s Day gift?

Lockdown Love

Hi Scott,

Let me tell you about my mother. After living through the Depression, seeing her only brother go to war (sadly, he died at Kokoda), and raising eight children on one income, my amazing 96-year-old mother is now in a nursing home in lockdown. Does she complain? Not one word. She has learnt how to use a mobile phone so she can ring us daily so “we won’t worry”.


Hey Louise,

There’s so much wisdom we can learn from your mother and her ‘silent generation’.

The Great Depression left its mark on them … it taught them that the world can be a risky place.

And, unlike us, they didn’t look to pandering politicians who promised to ‘fix things’; instead they just got on with it.

That steely self-reliance seems to have also created a strong sense of looking out for other people, as evidenced by your mum still looking out for you!

Milking It

Dear Scott,

My mother was born in 1930 on the wrong side of WWII. Her stubborn resilience and stories from her childhood shaped who I am today. She survived starvation by sneaking into abattoir yards in Hamburg and milking the cows, then bartering the milk for food! This experience translated to our family having a large garden, an orchard, chickens and a house cow. We learned how to milk, grow veggies, and make cheese, yoghurt and bread. Great life skills!


Hey Christina,

A mum’s gotta do what a mum’s gotta do, right?

And yours snuck into an abattoir and squeezed the last drop of milk out of the poor old girls. That is hard core!

Back then, growing your own food was the difference between your kids eating or not. Today it’s a wholesome hobby that brings you together as a family. Either way it creates an amazing legacy and teaches kids the value of being truly self-sufficient.

Hunger is the mother of invention!

Sound Familiar?

Hi Scott,

Mum taught us financial literacy without us knowing it. We had backyard chooks, and sold our extra eggs to the neighbours. Mum ‘allowed’ my brother, and later on me, to take over the care of (and profits from) the chooks, on the condition that we recorded all financial transactions. And if we needed more money? Well, we had to find another job, or new clients. Sound familiar?


Hi Lorraine,

Your mum was a smart woman.

The hardest thing about teaching money skills to kids is making it real.

Yet that’s exactly what your mum did by creating a little micro-business for you and your brother.

She made entrepreneurship simple and real … and laid a golden egg!

It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that, which is why I’m ripping off that exact idea with my two-year-old daughter.

A Very Proud Mothers Day

Hi Scott,

Thank you for kicking my butt into gear. A couple of years ago I was a single mum, drowning in debt, with a rip-off mortgage rate. After reading your book, I sought advice from a beautiful lady called Margaret at Anglicare Financial Counselling. Then I smashed my credit cards, refinanced with another bank (who gave me $2,000 cashback, which became my Mojo) and set up my buckets. I am now sending my daughter to a private school, once an unachievable dream. When the corona crisis hit, for the first time in my life I did not have to worry. Hand on heart, I have you and Margaret to thank for that.


Hi Danielle

I’m so proud of you.

Yet you know who else is proud of you?

Your daughter.

She’s been watching you scrimp, and struggle, and save.

You may be sending her to private school, but I’d argue that you’re already giving her a first-class education in grit.

One day she’ll fully appreciate the sacrifices you’re making, and what an amazing woman her mother really is.

Happy Mother’s Day, you got this!

Finally, a huge thank-you to everyone who sent in stories of their mums (and, to be fair, there were just as many dudes who wrote in).  And even if your question didn’t get published, here’s one final tip that would make old Anna Jarvis smile: take the email you sent to me, and forward it on to your mum today. She’ll love it.