MANCHESTER -- The ancient Romans observed it. So did the ancient Greeks. Both had festivals that honored motherhood. Intriguingly, the Romans termed theirs "Hilaria," to honor the mother of the gods. From it we derive our modern term for laughter and rejoicing -- "hilarious."

That connection between goofy fun and the serious business of motherhood could keep an etymologist -- someone who studies the origin of words and language -- busy for a little while. Many would argue that while motherhood is filled with joyous moments, motherhood is no joke either.

Driving to the games. Cleaning the house. Working. Being there. Appreciation that may be somewhat inconsistent at best. The list goes on.

But it's also a different day this year for Jodie Hudson, a school teacher from Bennington. On March 28, she and her husband welcomed their first child, Lauren Katherine Hudson, into to their family. Mother's Day took on a whole new meaning for her, she said.

"It's definitely a special Mother's Day this year," she said. "I'm fortunate to have months with her (she returns to her teaching post at Bennington Elementary School in the fall); most only have a few weeks. I couldn't even imagine that at this point."

No matter that getting 2 or 3 hours of sleep at a given stretch seems like a luxury. So far, barely a month into being a first-time parent, she's found the energy to keep going even after being up more than a portion of the night most nights.


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Just to have the ability to keep going after little to no sleep has been one observation. Another is the all-encompassing nature of being a mom for a new born, she said.

"To get nothing accomplished all day but feeding and caring for her was also very surprising," she said. "I thought I'd be out planting flowers, but that has not been the case."

So far, what she hasn't missed is work. Having recently completed a masters degree, and focused on her career, with several years of classroom experience teaching behind her, Hudson said that somewhat to her surprise, she hasn't missed the workday routine very much at all.

"I was thinking I wouldn't find it fulfilling to be home with her and I would miss the daily grind, but I haven't one bit," she said. Mother's Day began as an informal holiday in the latter stages of the 19th century, but didn't become officially recognized until 1914 when the second Sunday in May was set aside for the event. The practice quickly spread across the globe, although some nations hold their observance at other times of the year.

It will also be a special Mother's Day for Melissa Levis of Manchester. It will be the first one without her own mother to have around to talk and be with, other than in a spiritual sense.

Her mother, Georgette, an innkeeper, passed away earlier this year from cancer.

However, the day will not be marked by unbearable sorrow and depression. Quite the opposite.

She and her family -- her father, sister and brothers, along with the kids -- are planning a weekend long series of events at the Wilburton Inn, on River Road, which has been in the family for more than a quarter century.

"Our mother, Georgette Wasserstein Levis' favorite things were dancing, enjoying fine food, and seeing families having fun together at the Wilburton Inn. We want to honor her by welcoming the community to share in these creative, joyful and delicious events," she stated in a news release.

Her father, Albert Levis, will lead tours of their extensive sculpture garden with a focus on the transformation of women and goddesses in several ancient cultures. A special "Farm Fresh" Mother's Day brunch will be held Sunday morning. Saturday night will see a throwback disco night, DJ'd by one of her sons and four granchildren. You should be dancing, yeah, as the Bee Gees once sang.

Melissa Levis, who had been living and working in New York City as a singer and songwriter for off-Broadway musicals had already decided on a return to Vermont and to help with the running of the inn when the family learned of her mother's illness. That was a blessing, she said; it made it clear her commitment to that was not out of a sense of guilt.

She was amazed by the number of people who kept returning to stay at The Wilburton year after year who commented that it was her mother's upbeat and welcoming personality that kept them coming back. That's a legacy she and her siblings, along with her father, plan to maintain and even take to the next level, she said.

"There was just no question that we would have this celebration," she said. "We're doing this special event because Mom would want us to keep dancing."

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 11. Don't mess with Mom, and don't forget. And be funny, if not hilarious.