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Mothers

  • The death of my mother permanently affects my happiness, more even than I should have anticipated, though I always knew that I must feel the separation at first as a severe wrench. But I did not apprehend, during her life, to what a degree she prevented me from feeling heart-solitude ...

  • Did any great genius ever enter the world in the wake of commonplace pre-natal conditions? Was a maker of history ever born amidst the pleasant harmonies of a satisfied domesticity? Of a mother who was less than remarkable, although she may have escaped being great? Did a woman with no wildness in her blood ever inform a brain with electric fire? The students of history know that while many mothers of great men have been virtuous, none have been commonplace, and few have been happy.

  • The only mothers it is safe to forget on Mother's Day are the good ones.

  • Gussie's mother was a real mother — the kind that wakes up when you come home.

  • Mother knows best.

  • Why not have your first baby at sixty, when your husband is already dead and your career is over? Then you can really devote yourself to it.

  • Most mothers entering the labor market outside the home are naive. They stagger home each evening, holding mail in their teeth, the cleaning over their arm, a lamb chop defrosting under each armpit, balancing two gallons of frozen milk between their knees, and expect one of the kids to get the door.

  • The term 'working mother' is redundant.

  • My mother phones daily to ask, 'Did you just try to reach me?' When I reply, 'No,' she adds, 'So, if you're not too busy, call me while I'm still alive,' and hangs up.

  • Don't be silly. I'm a mature, intelligent woman. Of course I'm afraid of my mother.

  • Being a mom is rewarding. You've got all these little people and you could really mess up their heads forever. Only moms can say stuff like, 'Don't talk with your mouth full. Answer me!'

    • Roseanne Barr,
    • in Geraldine Barr with Ted Schwarz, My Sister Roseanne ()
  • Mighty is the force of motherhood! ... It transforms all things by its vital heat ...

    • George Eliot,
    • "Janet's Repentance," Scenes of Clerical Life ()
  • A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.

  • My sister said once: 'Anything I don't want mother to know, I don't even think of, if she's in the room.'

  • I couldn't see what repaid her, do you see? What made up to her for the unending, unending effort, and sacrifice, the pouring out of love and sympathy and help — year after year after year ...

  • There is a bond, it appears, between mother and child which endures as long as they do. It is independent of love; reason cannot weaken it; hate cannot destroy it.

  • ... she had risen and was walking about the room, her fat, worn face sharpening with a sort of animal alertness into power and protection. The claws that hide in every maternal creature slipped out of the fur of good manners ...

  • What I object to in Mother is that she wants me to think her thoughts. Apart from the question of hypocrisy, I prefer my own.

  • ... we buried her ... this mother with whom I fought so desperately, whom I loved so dearly, and of whose presence I grow daily more and more conscious ...

  • The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is an attitude of the mind. It is love — and that love is the very breath of life. No one would say, 'I will breathe only when I am with my family and friends; I won't breathe in front of my enemies.' Similarly, for those in whom motherhood has awakened, love and compassion for everyone are as much part of their being as breathing.

    • Amma Chi,
    • speech given at the Global Peace Initiative of Women's Religious and Spiritual Leaders (2002), in Utne ()
  • The boy still has that uneasy half-deluded love a man never wholly loses for his mother ...

  • How strange — a daughter watching the mother who had given her life lose her own. Is that what it's all about?

  • No culture on earth outside of mid-century suburban America has ever deployed one woman per child without simultaneously assigning her such major productive activities as weaving, farming, gathering, temple maintenance, and tent building. The reason is that full-time, one-on-one child-raising is not good for women or children.

  • Whether you work outside the home or not, never tell them [your children] that being a mommy is your 'job.' Being a mommy is a relationship, not a profession.

  • Claudia ... remembered that when she'd had her first baby she had realized with astonishment that the perfect couple consisted of a mother and child and not, as she had always supposed, a man and woman.

  • A mother never fully delivers.

  • You might not have thought it possible to give birth to others before one has given birth to oneself, but I assure you it is quite possible, it has been done; I offer myself in evidence as Exhibit A.

  • I acknowledge the cold truth of her death for perhaps the first time. She is truly gone, forever out of reach, and I have become my own judge.

  • A mother is never cocky or proud, because she knows the school principal may call at any minute to report that her child has just driven a motorcycle through the gymnasium.

    • Mary Kay Blakely,
    • "The Pros and Cons of Motherhood," in Gloria Kaufman and Mary Kay Blakely, eds., Pulling Our Own Strings ()
  • Families don't always realize that mother is exhausted, because mother is always exhausted. Exhausted is what looks normal.

  • ... 'mother' is the first word that occurs to politicians and columnists and popes when they raise the question, 'Why isn't life turning out the way we wanted it?'

  • Mothers always think you are working either too hard or not hard enough.

  • My mother is a good woman — a very good woman — and I am, I think, not quite all criminality, but we do not pull together. I am a piece of machinery which, not understanding, my mother winds up the wrong way, setting all the wheels of my composition going in creaking discord.

  • Civilization, stretching up to recognize that every child is a portion of State wealth, may presently make some movement to recognize maternity as a business or office needing time and strength, not as a mere passing detail thrown in among mountains of other slavery.

  • Inside my mother's death / I lay and could not breathe ...

  • I am all the time talking about you, and bragging, to one person or another. I am like the Ancient Mariner, who had a tale in his heart he must unfold to all. I am always button-holing somebody and saying, 'Someday you must meet my mother.' And then I am off. And nothing stops me till the waiters close up the café. I do love you so much, my mother. ... If I didn't keep calling you mother, anybody reading this would think I was writing to my sweetheart. And he would be quite right.

  • Do you suppose, when you and I are dead, dear, they will publish the Love Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Her Mother?

  • Mothers have a habit of proving right except you don't find that out until you're the age your mother was when she gave you the advice.

  • When Mother died I was both freed and abandoned, as are we all at this profound juncture in our lives.

  • Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.

  • I have often felt that I cheated my children a little. I was never so totally theirs are most mothers are. I gave to audiences what belonged to my children, got back from audiences the love my children longed to give to me.

  • I discovered, quite early in motherhood, that the longest and most painful deliveries occur when you give birth to stepchildren.

  • Our mother's first gift to us comes at the moment we are born, because Mom, as she will subsequently remind us over and over, gives us the Gift of Life Like many of the gifts we receive from our mothers, the Gift of Life usually doesn't fit properly and is almost never returnable without a major hassle.

  • She knew how to make virtues out of necessities.

  • When the strongest words for what I have to offer come out of me sounding like words I remember from my mother's mouth, then I either have to reassess the meaning of everything I have to say now, or re-examine the worth of her old words.

  • I am a reflection of my mother's secret poetry as well as of her hidden angers.

  • When I hear the deepest truths I speak coming out of my mouth sounding like my mother's, even remembering how I fought against her, I have to reassess both our relationship as well as the sources of my knowing.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Learning From the '60s," speech (1982), Sister Outsider ()
  • ... the one thing motherhood as an occupation has going for it is job security. Whether you are a good mother or a bad mother really doesn't matter. You can't get fired. And you know why? Nobody else wants your job.

  • I learned from you / to define myself / through your denials.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Black Mother Woman" (1971), Undersong ()
  • I would have said nonsense / to please you / & frequently did.

  • My mother wanted me to be her wings, to fly as she never quite had the courage to do. I love her for that. I love that she wanted to give birth to her own wings.

  • ... she was a different person then — before pregnancy doubled her, birth halved her, and motherhood turned her into Everywoman.

  • ... the Lord gives good many things twice over; but he don't give ye a mother but once.

  • Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.

  • My mother was my first jealous lover ...

  • ... when the time came I would do battle with my mother for the right to sit at the center of my own life.

  • Mothers sometimes were a bit more right than was wanted ...

  • A woman's life stretches over many periods, as does man's. In a lifetime she is capable of being much more than a mother, as man is expected to be much more than a father.

  • The male portion of the race already feel as though fatherhood were a mere incident in their lives, and would be insulted were you to intimate that fatherhood should be the crowning glory of their lives. They know that they possess powers and capabilities that the world needs and appreciates, and that fatherhood, blessed though it be, is not the fullest and best manifestation of their existence. The idea is in every way as applicable to woman as to man. Why should all the faculties and energies of woman be turned to the fulfilment of this one function of her being?

  • Fortunately for those who pay their court through such foibles, a fond mother, though, in pursuit of praise for her children, the most rapacious of human beings, is likewise the most credulous; her demands are exorbitant; but she will swallow any thing ...

  • I think people should think a million times before they give birth. The guilts of motherhood were the worst guilts in the world for me. They were really insurmountable. You see, you are depriving another human being of so many things, and the other party also knows it.

  • Mother-love is not inevitable. The good mother is a great artist ever creating beauty out of chaos.

  • I don't even remember what Mother and I quarreled about: it is a continual quarrel that began when I reached puberty.

  • Now that I am in my forties, she [my mother] tells me I'm beautiful; now that I am in my forties, she sends me presents and we have the long, personal and even remarkably honest phone calls I always wanted so intensely I forbade myself to imagine them. How strange. Perhaps Shaw was correct and if we lived to be several hundred years old, we would finally work it all out. I am deeply grateful. With my poems, I finally won even my mother. The longest wooing of my life.

  • My mother is my mirror and I am hers. / What do we see? Our face grown young again ...

  • My mother was dead for five years before I knew that I had loved her very much.

  • [When asked whether her mother cared that she had been living with Dashiell Hammett:] Everybody's mother still cares.

    • Lillian Hellman,
    • interview with Barbara Walters on Not For Women Only ()
  • There is, I suppose, no occupation in the world which has an influence on the efficiency and happiness of the members of nearly all other occupations so continuous and so permeating as that of the working housewife and mother.

  • Nothing would have satisfied Amelia but complete possession of her son, to all intents and purposes returning him to the dark slyness of her womb.

  • There is no other closeness in human life like the closeness between a mother and her baby — chronologically, physically, and spiritually they are just a few heartbeats away from being the same person.

  • I fear, as any daughter would, losing myself back into the mother.

  • Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.

  • Motherhood is neither a duty nor a privilege, but simply the way that humanity can satisfy the desire for physical immortality and triumph over the fear of death.

  • Motherhood is the strangest thing, it can be like being one's own Trojan horse.

    • Rebecca West,
    • letter (1959), in Victoria Glendinning, Rebecca West ()
  • All the earth, though it were full of kind hearts, is but a desolation and desert place to a mother when her only child is absent.

  • A mother's hardest to forgive. / Life is the fruit she longs to hand you, / Ripe on a plate. And while you live, / Relentlessly she understands you.

  • Yes, my mother's death is a terrible sorrow to me. I feel — do you know what I mean — the silence of it so. She was more alive than anyone I have ever known.

    • Katherine Mansfield,
    • 1918, in J. Middleton Murry, ed., The Letters of Katherine Mansfield, vol. 1 ()
  • ... I am persuaded that there is no affection of the human heart more exquisitely pure, than that which is felt by a grateful son towards a mother ...

  • Nothing could have prepared me for the realization that I was a mother ... when I knew I was still in a state of uncreation myself.

  • Our personalities seem dangerously to blur and overlap with our mother's; and, in a desperate attempt to know where mother ends and daughter begins, we perform radical surgery.

  • Motherhood, in the sense of an intense, reciprocal relationship with a particular child, or children, is one part of female process; it is not an identity for all time.

  • The worker can unionize, go out on strike; mothers are divided from each other in homes, tied to their children by compassionate bonds; our wildcat strikes have most often taken the form of physical or mental breakdown.

  • But before we were mothers, we have been, first of all, women, with actual bodies and actual minds.

  • Mothers and daughters have always exchanged with each other — beyond the verbally transmitted lore of female survival — a knowledge that is subliminal, subversive, preverbal: the knowledge flowing between two alike bodies, one of which has spent nine months inside the other.

  • We are, none of us, 'either' mothers or daughters; to our amazement, confusion, and greater complexity, we are both.

  • The mother's battle for her child — with sickness, with poverty, with war, with all the forces of exploitation and callousness that cheapen human life — needs to become a common human battle, waged in love and in the passion for survival.

  • ... motherhood is the great mesh in which all human relations are entangled, in which lurk our most elemental assumptions about love and power.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "The Contemporary Emergency and the Quantum Leap," On Lies, Secrets, and Silence ()
  • The woman / I needed to call my mother / was silenced before I was born.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "Re-forming the Crystal" (1973), The Fact of a Doorframe ()
  • Our mothers and grandmothers, some of them: moving to music not yet written.

    • Alice Walker,
    • title essay (1974), In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • ... no song or poem will bear my mother's name. Yet so many of the stories that I write, that we all write, are my mother's stories.

    • Alice Walker,
    • title essay (1974), In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • ... in search of my mother's garden, I found my own.

    • Alice Walker,
    • title essay (1974), In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • Yes, Mother ... I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.

  • ... I think mothers and daughters are meant to give birth to each other, over and over; that is why our challenges to each other are so fierce; that is why, when love and trust have not been too badly blemished or destroyed, the teaching and learning one from the other is so indelible and bittersweet. We daughters must risk losing the only love we instinctively feel we can't live without in order to be who we are, and I am convinced this sends a message to our mothers to break their own chains, though they may be anchored in prehistory and attached to their own great grandmothers' hearts.

  • ... a mother is not a person to lean upon, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.

  • A woman is her mother. / That's the main thing.

  • In the pure loves of child and mother! — / Two human loves make one divine.

  • ... our parents merged into the one / totemic creature: / Come, she said. Come to Mother.

  • ... mothers weep at their daughters' weddings, / everyone knows that, though / for whose youth one cannot say.

  • Lennie, suffering not alone for her who was dying, but for that in her which never lived (for that which in him might never live). From him too, unspoken words: Good-bye Mother who taught me to mother myself.

  • Motherhood means being instantly interruptible, responsive, responsible.

  • After Mom died, I had to decide what parts of her I needed to bury and what parts I wanted to keep alive. Of course, this went on unconsciously. I didn't make a list or anything. I simply found that here or there, in this decision or that, Mom's opinion mattered or it didn't. It's kind of astonishing how much power a mother still holds even after her death.

    • Joan Olson,
    • in Mary Pinney Erickson and Betty Kling, eds., Streams From the Sacred River ()
  • My mother could make anybody feel guilty — she used to get letters of apology from people she didn't even know.

    • Joan Rivers,
    • with Richard Merryman, Still Talking ()
  • The world seems a lonesome place when mother has passed away and only memories of her are left.

  • Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, comrades and friends — but only one mother in the whole world.

  • She rose alone / to apocalyptic silence, / set the sun in our windows / and daily mended the world.

  • I would give up my life for my children, but not myself.

  • In our society mothers take the place elsewhere occupied by the Fates, the System, Negroes, Communism or Reactionary Imperialist Plots; mothers go on getting blamed until they're eighty, but shouldn't take it personally.

  • Motherhood — instinctive? Biological destiny? Forget biology! If it were biology, people would would die from not doing it.

  • In becoming archaeologists of the world of our mothers, we are trying to retrieve the female past and to invent a future.

  • ... advocating women's rights and greater opportunity for women in the workplace and in every avenue of public life is inconsistent with an insistence on mother taking care of children and housework.

  • ... the mother is the precious possession of the nation, so precious that society advances its highest well being when it protects the functions of the mother.

  • They always looked back before turning the corner, for their mother was always at the window to nod and smile, and wave her hand at them. Somehow it seemed as if they couldn't have got through the day without that, for whatever their mood might be, the last glimpse of that motherly face was sure to affect them like sunshine.

  • Mothers can forgive anything!

  • Mother love [is] that divine gift which comforts, purifies, and strengthens all who seek it.

  • There were, in the beginning, seven children, each rising out of my great-grandmother's darkness every twelve or thirteen months like little full moons, following, even in birth, the quirky Jewish calendar. ... My great-grandmother conceived and bore them, I am told, with bemused passivity, as tolerant as the moon must be of her own swellings and thinnings and equally unconscious.

  • I'll be with you always; and even when you don't want me to be.

  • To her whose heart is my heart's quiet home, / To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee / I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome ...

  • To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.

  • But what mother and daughter understand each other, or even have the sympathy for each other's lack of understanding?

  • Every act of motherhood contains a dual intent, as the mother holds the child close and prepares it to move way from her, as she supports the child and stands it firmly on its own feet, and as she guards it against danger and sends it out across the yard, down by the stream, and across the traffic-crowded highway. Unless a mother can do both — gather her child close and turn her child out toward the world — she will fail in her purpose.

  • I discovered when I had a child of my own that I had become a biased observer of small children. Instead of looking at them with affectionate but nonpartisan eyes, I saw each of them as older or younger, bigger or smaller, more or less graceful, intelligent, or skilled than my own child.

  • I love you so passionately, that I hide a great part of my love, not to oppress you with it.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1671, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 1 ()
  • Every child has a legitimate narcissistic need to be noticed, understood, taken seriously, and respected by his mother. In the first weeks and months of life he needs to have the mother at his disposal, must be able to use her and to be mirrored by her.

  • If a mother respects both herself and her child from his very first day onward, she will never need to teach him respect for others.

  • ... nobody fought death so hard as a mother did, who left children behind her to root-pig-or-die-pore in a hard old world.

  • ... the way of his own mother is the natural way to a child's thinking; all else seems foreign and remarkable.

  • ... ever afterward she did as she had heard her mother say that women do — though her child was dead, still she carried it about in her heart, a dead weight.

  • Another thing that seems quite helpful to the creative process is having babies. It does not detract at all from one's creativity. It reminds one that there is always more where that came from and there is never any shortage of ideas or of the ability to create. The process of being pregnant and then of having the baby and getting up in the night only puts one more in touch with this fecund part of one's self.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • All mothers love their own children as best they can, according to their temperament and circumstances, and all mothers should have done better, in their children's eyes, when the going gets tough for the children.

  • There never was a great man who had not a great mother — it is hardly an exaggeration.

  • What I wanted from you, Mother, was this, / That in giving me life, / You too remained alive.

    • Luce Irigaray,
    • "And the One Doesn't Stir Without the Other" (1981), Key Writings ()
  • You must be the greatest mother in the world, but you must also, simultaneously, withdraw from your children's lives. You don't want to be the major force in their whole lives. You need to do the job adequately and as best you can, and then provide them with independence from you. You have to give them enough so that they won't need you anymore.

  • Any mother could perform the jobs of several air-traffic controllers with ease.

  • Long before we discovered mirrors and photographs, our mothers' reflections provided us with the earliest glimpses of our female identity.

  • ... it is not only unfair but disgustingly cruel that the mother is always held responsible for the illegitimate child, while the father goes scot-free.

  • The absolute, unmitigated truth that I know above all else is this: Motherhood changes everything. Forever.

  • ... the longer one lives in this hard world motherless, the more a mother's loss makes itself felt ...

    • Jane Welsh Carlyle,
    • letter to Thomas Carlyle (1858), in James Anthony Froude, ed., Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, vol. 2 ()
  • Motherhood, to be sure, receives a great deal of sentimental adulation, but only if it is committed in accordance with rules which have been prescribed by a predominantly masculine society. Per se it is accorded no respect whatever. When it results from a sexual relationship which has been duly sanctioned by organized society, it is holy, no matter how much it may transgress the rules of decency, health, or common sense. Otherwise it is a sin meriting social ostracism for the mother and obloquy for the child — an ostracism and obloquy, significantly enough, in which the father does not share.

  • Believing that all women should want to be mothers makes about as much sense as believing that all men should want to be engineers.

  • Feeling inadequate is an occupational hazard of motherhood.

  • The best thing that could happen to motherhood already has. Fewer women are going into it.

  • ... her mother believed that she was made for happiness. Every mother believes this of her wonderful children. Where she has failed, they will be sure to succeed. She expects them to be proof against misfortune, as if she had given them something else than life.

  • I'm not against mothers. I am against the ideology which expects every woman to have children, and I'm against the circumstances under which mothers have to have their children.

  • My mother used to do all the things that were important to her after midnight. ... Sometimes I'd sneak downstairs and see her knitting, or reading, or writing letters. I'd think of her as a thief, stealing the tail end of the day, the hours nobody else wanted or used.

  • I quickly learned that motherhood was a high wire act sometimes performed without a net.

  • How many of the people I know — sons and daughters — have intricate abstract expressionist paintings of their mothers, created out of their own emotions, attitudes, hands. And how many have only Polaroid pictures of their fathers.

  • My mother and I go way back.

  • She said mothers were like churches. She said, 'You go to them to find out the difference between right and wrong, but the rest is up to you. You're on your own after that.'

  • Always that tyrannical love reaches out. Soft words shrivel me like quicklime. She will not allow me to be cold, hungry. She will insist that I take her own coat, her own food.

    • Elizabeth Smart,
    • "Dig a Grave and Let Us Bury Our Mother" (1939), In the Meantime ()
  • ... I come alone / To you, Mother, I walk, making our poems.

  • You are here, Mother, and you are / Dead, and here is your gift: my life which is my home.

  • I knew a beautiful woman once. And she was my mother. I knew a tenderness once. And it was my mother's. Oh, how happy I was to be loved. And now I mourn her. I mourn that cornerstone. I mourn her caring. I mourn the one who always hoped for me. I mourn her lost image of me. The lost infant in myself. My lost happiness. I mourn my own eventual death. My life now is only mine ...

    • Toby Talbot,
    • in Tillie Olsen, Mother to Daughter, Daughter to Mother ()
  • She [my mother] said that if I listened to her, later I would know what she knew: where true words came from, always from up high, above everything else. And if I didn't listen to her, she said my ear would bend too easily to other people, all saying words that had no lasting meaning, because they came from the bottom of their hearts, where their own desires lived, a place where I could not belong.

  • ... whenever I'm with my mother, I feel as though I have to spend the whole time avoiding land mines.

  • Who ran to help me when I fell, / And would some pretty story tell, / Or kiss the place to make it well? / My Mother.

    • Ann Taylor,
    • "My Mother," in Jane Taylor and Her Sisters, Original Poems for Infant Minds ()
  • Her [mother's] constant care blurs into the maternal mists while his [father's] few alcohol rubs are as memorable as if they were anointments by a prophet.

  • Mothers remember a child's first words, and quote them in tones usually reserved for Byron.

  • I feel about mothers the way I feel about dimples: because I do not have one myself, I notice everyone who does.

  • Blaming mother is just a negative way of clinging to her still.

  • 'Oh, I know all about my mother and me,' you may say. 'All that business with my mother was over years ago.' You don't and it wasn't.

  • Over the years I have learned that motherhood is much like an austere religious order, the joining of which obligates one to relinquish all claims to personal possessions.

  • A mother! What are we worth really? They all grow up whether you look after them or not.

  • [On her mother:] My relationship with her is close, painful, and skaky, and I always have to keep searching for a sign of love. Everything I do, I do to please her, to make her smile, to ward off her fury. This work is extremely exhausting ...

  • I saw motherhood as the next logical step in my life; I refused to accept the infertility sentence that was handed out to me. I found it very difficult to literally make the decision to have a baby. When it comes to you, when it just happens easily, it is still the biggest gamble in the world. It is the glorious life force ... what's meant to be — but really to create a human being is a huge thing. It's huge and scary — it's an act of infinite optimism. Suddenly, when it's not going to be a natural event and it's put into your hands with experimental procedures and elective surgeries, the decision becomes an obsession. For me the issue became less whether I wanted a baby or not and more my inability to accept not being able to have one.

  • Forgiving all things, dreaming all things, hoping all things with the boundless faith of maternity, she loved him, through the child that he was, for the man that he might be — loved him, through the man that he was, for the child that he had been.

  • Then there is the matter of my mother's abandonment of me. Again, this is the common experience. They walk ahead of us, and walk too fast, and forget us, they are so lost in thoughts of their own, and soon or late they disappear. The only mystery is that we expect it to be otherwise.

  • Oh! mothers aren't fair — I mean it's not fair of nature to weigh us down with them and yet expect us to be our own true selves. The handicap's too great. All those months, when the same blood's running through two sets of veins — there's no getting away from that, ever after. Take yours. As I say, does she need to open her mouth? Not she! She's only got to let it hang at the corners, and you reek, you drip with guilt.

  • My mother, religious-negro, proud of / having waded through a storm, is very obviously, / a sturdy Black bridge that I / crossed over, on.

    • Carolyn M. Rodgers,
    • "It Is Deep (don't never forget the bridge that you crossed over on)," how i got ovah ()
  • Our mythology tells us so much about fathers and sons. ... What do we know about mothers and daughters? ... Our power is so oblique, so hidden, so ethereal a matter, that we rarely struggle with our daughters over actual kingdoms or corporate shares. On the other hand, our attractiveness dries as theirs blooms, our journey shortens just as theirs begins. We too must be afraid and awed and amazed that we cannot live forever and that our replacements are eager for their turn, indifferent to our wishes, ready to leave us behind.

  • We have not outgrown a servant society; we've just rebaptized 'cook,' 'governess,' 'maid' and called her 'mother.' That technology has made these duties easier to perform doesn't affect the location of responsibility. Dependence on an unacknowledged and essentially unrewarded servant is not conducive to democratic respect for others.

    • Amélie Rorty,
    • in Sara Ruddick and Pamela Daniels, Working It Out ()
  • ... in my mother's ferocious striving to give me 'everything,' she had never considered that giving me 'everything' would make me (1) different (from her), and (2) guilty (about what I got). Different and Guilty are not the stuff on which comradeship is built.

  • ... unlike a disappointing marriage, disappointing motherhood cannot be terminated by divorce.

  • Whenever I feel myself inferior to everything about me, threatened by my own mediocrity, frightened by the discovery that a muscle is losing its strength, a desire its power, or a pain the keen edge of its bite, I can still hold up my head and say to myself: 'I am the daughter of ... a woman who, in a mean, close-fisted, confined little place, opened her village home to stray cats, tramps, and pregnant servant girls. I am the daughter of a woman who many a time, when she was in despair at not having enough money for others, ran through the wind-whipped snow to cry from door to door, at the houses of the rich, that a child had just been born in a poverty-stricken home to parents whose feeble, empty hands had no swaddling clothes for it. Let me not forget that I am the daughter of a woman who bent her head, trembling, between the blades of a cactus, her wrinkled face full of ecstasy over the promise of a flower, a woman who herself never ceased to flower, untiringly, during three quarters of a century.'

    • Colette,
    • 1928, in Enid McLeod, trans., Break of Day ()
  • ... the best compliment to a mother is to appreciate her little one.

  • Mothering has left me with stretch marks. I have been stretched beyond what I could have imagined in helping another be who they were called to be in relation to life.

    • Kathy Callahan,
    • in Mary Pinney Erickson and Betty Kling, eds., Streams From the Sacred River ()
  • She was the archetypal selfless mother: living only for her children, sheltering them from the consequences of their actions — and in the end doing them irreparable harm.

    • Marcia Muller,
    • "Benny's Space," in Sara Paretsky, ed., A Woman's Eye ()
  • Have you noticed that some women make maternity, legitimatized, a perpetual exoneration?

  • ... mothering is absurdly hard and profoundly sweet. ... They take everything. They will bring you to the furthest edge of your personality and abso-fucking-lutely to your knees.

  • Mother love makes a woman more vulnerable than any other creature on earth.

    • Pam Brown,
    • in Debra Evans, Kindred Hearts ()
  • It will take your mother approximately two and a half years to learn the name of the guy you're living with. (She's doing it to hurt you. Just so you know.)

  • I find it very heartening that of the women I have questioned lately about their feelings towards their mother, all the ones whose faces light up and who say, 'She's wonderful' have been daughters of women who work outside the home.

  • I love Toby because of an intractable biological fact: she is my mother. It's bargain basement, bottom of the food chain love.

  • The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.

  • ... children ... will put up with nothing that is unpleasant to them, without at least making a noise, which I do detest and dread; though I know mothers ought to 'get used to such things.' I have heard that eels get accustomed to being skinned, but I doubt the fact.

  • At this holiday time I always think of our dear mother. I never saw her again after the day you took the fateful decision to send me to a lunatic asylum! I think of that lovely portrait I did of her in the shade of our beautiful garden. ... I doubt whether that hateful person I often mention to you [Rodin] would have the audacity to attribute it to himself, like my other works — that would be too much, the portrait of my mother!

  • ... motherhood is the most important of all professions — requiring more knowledge than any other department in human affairs ...

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 1 ()
  • [On women's role in the home:] Every wife, mother and housekeeper feels at present that there is some screw loose in the household situation.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • Motherhood didn't make you stronger; it made you vulnerable and afraid of what death could steal from you.

  • My mother and I could always look out the same window without ever seeing the same thing.

  • Babies don't come with directions on the back or batteries that can be removed. Motherhood is twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You can't 'leave the office.'

    • Patricia Schroeder,
    • in Pat Schroeder with Andrea Camp and Robyn Lipner, Champion of the Great American Family ()
  • She [a mother] never outgrows the burden of love, and to the end she carries the weight of hope for those she bore. Oddly, very oddly, she is forever surprised and even faintly wronged that her sons and daughters are just people, for many mothers hope and half expect that their new-born child will make the world better, will somehow be a redeemer. Perhaps they are right, and they can believe that the rare quality they glimpsed in the child is active in the burdened adult.

  • No matter how old a mother is she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.

  • We don't think of mothers as having superpowers, but they do. Mothers ... can tell we're sad by the way we say, 'I'm fine.'

  • As she grew older she naturally spent more time in her mother's company; but it might fairly be said that the acquaintance did not ripen.

  • My mother never listens to me.

  • I learned your walk, talk, gestures and nurturing laughter. At that time, Mama, had you swung from bars, I would, to this day, be hopelessly, imitatively, hung up.

    • SDiane Bogus,
    • "Mom de Plume" (1977), in Patricia Bell-Scott et al., eds., Double Stitch ()
  • Because of my mother, who gave me definitions, I knew what I was committed to in life. ... I had the most satisfactory of childhoods because Mother, small, delicate-boned, witty, and articulate, turned out to be exactly my age.

    • Kay Boyle,
    • in Kay Boyle with Robert McAlmon, Being Geniuses Together ()
  • My mother wasn't what the world would call a good woman. She never said she was. And many people, including the police, said she was a bad woman. But she never agreed with them, and she had a way of lifting up her head when she talked back to them that made me know she was right.

  • My love for you is the sole image / Of God a human is allowed.

  • Were my smile not submerged in my countenance, / I should suspend it over her grave.

  • The sad truth is that there is no point to getting sick when you're a grown-up. You know why? It's because being sick is about you and your mother. ... Without that solicitous hand on your forehead, there is no one to confirm that you are really sick.

  • In the final analysis, each of us is responsible for what we are. We cannot blame it on our mothers, who, thanks to Freud, have replaced money as the root of all evil.

  • My mother had died when I was seven. For many years I lived primarily to search for her. I would pretend to find her in every new woman I met. I imagined her to be hiding behind walls, on the other side of mirrors, within my favorite photographs of her.

  • The only thing which seems to me to be eternal and natural in motherhood is ambivalence ...

  • ... there is only one image in this culture of the 'good mother.' ... She is quietly strong, selflessly giving, undemanding, unambitious; she is receptive and intelligent in only a moderate, concrete way; she is of even temperament, almost always in control of her emotions. She loves her children completely and unambivalently. Most of us are not like her.

  • Clearly, society has a tremendous stake in insisting on a woman's natural fitness for the career of mother: the alternatives are all too expensive.

  • Motherhood is the most dangerous and awesome relationship possible. ... The parent/child blood relationship is one-sided and irrevocable and enduring. And it is all rather humbling.

  • ... it is extraordinary how much you are theirs, and how little they are yours. The child grows inside you and there is something mystical and mythical in that, but then you actually see that you are nothing more than the box in which they come. There is this total person, already formed, themselves.

  • Motherhood is like Albania — you can't trust the descriptions in the books, you have to go there.

  • There seems to be a hole in the culture where mothers went. Then, when their kids went off to school or stopped having ear infections every three weeks, they emerged from the mother zone, and like everyone else, they forgot where they'd been. Amnesia surrounding motherhood is the rule, not the exception.

  • For plain and fancy worrying, give me a new mother every time.

    • Shirley Jackson,
    • "The Possibility of Evil," in Saturday Evening Post ()
  • Little wild baby, that knowest not where thou art going, / Lie still! lie still! Thy mother will do the rowing. / The river flows swiftly, the sea is dark and deep; / Little wild baby, lie still! Lie still and sleep.

  • Mother, who has an absolute belief that it is not the cards that one is dealt in life, it is how one plays them, is, by far, the highest card I was dealt.

  • On one thing professionals and amateurs agree: mothers can't win.

  • [On her mother's death:] ... the only comfort I have is the wonderful sense of her spirit in me.

    • Ruth Draper,
    • 1915, in Neilla Warren, ed., The Letters of Ruth Draper ()
  • If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully.

  • I ... have another cup of coffee with my mother. We get along very well, veterans of a guerrilla war we never understood.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "On Going Home," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • Mother who gave me life / I think of women bearing / women. Forgive me the wisdom / I would not learn from you.

    • Gwen Harwood,
    • "Mother Who Gave Me Life," The Lion's Bride ()
  • We are always children to our mothers.

  • I miss thee, my Mother! Thy image is still / The deepest impressed on my heart.

    • Eliza Cook,
    • "I Miss Thee, My Mother," The Poetical Works of Eliza Cook ()
  • ... [a] heavy sense of guilt [is] the most potent factor in the whole psychologic picture of motherliness.

  • There is no question that others would like it better if mothers would do as they are told.

  • Motherhood is a profession for the mother who chooses to make it one. A mother is a professional, if she chooses to be one.

  • The art of living is to function in society without doing violence to one's own needs or to the needs of others. The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.

  • The functions of mothering induce intense emotional reactions which lead inevitably to feelings of guilt. Unfortunately, mothers interpret the fact that they feel guilty to mean that they are guilty. Professionals have simply confirmed this interpretation by telling mothers why they are guilty.

  • Motherhood today is a high risk profession. Charges of malpractice have not been reserved for doctors and lawyers alone. Mothers have had firsthand experience with the peculiar belief in our culture that if something goes wrong, someone is at fault. ... We need someone to blame for whatever frustration or deprivation we may have experienced in our lives. Too often that someone is mother.

  • Until the moment arrives — as it no doubt will — when technology makes possible the creation of human life outside of a female body, a woman's anatomy, her capacity and desire to bear and to rear children, will remain a source of conflict for her as well as for those who seek to impose upon her their own definition of her true destiny.

  • There's a group of Americans who are fully employed. They aren't very well paid or they're not paid at all. They're called mothers; and I've never heard of a mother who wasn't a working mother. And that includes the mothers on welfare.

  • While motherhood is sometimes touted, mothers are accorded little common respect and no claim to the public purse absent the requisite and sometimes brutal indigities of charitable, judicial, or administrative scrutiny.

  • Every mother is a working mother.

  • [On her mother:] I was in nervous flight from her ever since I can remember anything, and from the age of fourteen I set myself obdurately against her in a kind of inner emigration from everything she represented. Girls do have to grow up, but has this battle always been so implacable?

  • ... my mother ... took the fact that my taste differed from hers as a personal insult.

  • The Polish ladies are very vigilant over the conduct of their daughters ... in some districts (which is perfectly ridiculous!) they are forced to wear little bells, both before and behind, in order to proclaim where they are and what they are doing.

  • Labor is not as bad as it's cracked up to be. Sure, it hurts like hell. But then it's over. What you should really worry about are the next eighteen years — they're painful in a much slower way, like peeling a huge adhesive bandage off your brain, cell by cell.

  • You thought a hormone-crazed teenage daughter was touchy? Try a nervous new mother trying desperately to prove that she knows what she's doing. Anything you say (other than 'Here's a check; no need to mention this to your father') will be wrong.

  • My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.

  • ... guys are not that hard to figure out. You want someone who's hard to figure out, I'll introduce you to my mother sometime.

  • ... you never get over bein' a child long's you have a mother to go to.

  • My grandmother wants me to get married like her and have ingrates for children and grandchildren who hang up on her.

  • ... my mother always found me out. Always. She's been dead for thirty-five years, but I have this feeling that even now she's watching.

  • I resented my mother for guessing my innermost secrets. She was like God, everywhere at once knowing everything.

    • Linda Hogan,
    • "Aunt Moon's Young Man," in Susan Cahill, ed., Growing Up Female ()
  • Emotional damage is never easy to measure, but mothers who are alive but psychically absent impose filial burdens which knot their children's feelings in a way biologic orphans are spared.

  • [On her mother:] I don't think she ever realized how often she made the remark, 'Speech was given man to hide his thoughts.' At such times, I would say to myself, 'She will die with her secrets.'

  • It's shocking what happens to mothers in this country. They die at 40 and they're not buried until they're 80.

    • Ruth Osborne,
    • in Evelyn Oppenheimer, The Articulate Woman ()
  • The relationship between a mother and her daughter is as varied, as mysterious, as constantly changing and interconnected as the patterns that touch, move away from, and touch again in a kaleidoscope.

  • Did you ever meet a mother who's complained that her child phoned her too often? Me neither.

  • I cannot have a more pleasing task than takeing care of my precious Child — It is an amusement to me preferable to all others ...

  • There's no discounting the antagonism the average woman feels for the eldest daughter. The infuriating thing is that most mothers blame the daughters for their hatred when it's just what makes the mother pig eat her first batch of young. Of course one can't tell them that.

    • Mari Sandoz,
    • 1933, in Helen Winter Stauffer, ed., Letters of Mari Sandoz ()
  • Guilt management can be just as important as time management for mothers.

  • When motherhood becomes the fruit of deep yearning, not the result of ignorance or accident, its children will become the foundation of a new race.

  • In the land of Cheerios, dirty diapers, fleeting naps and interrupted sleep, other mothers are a lifeline.

    • Susan Chira,
    • in The New York Times Review of Books ()
  • I know enough to know that when you're in a pickle ... call Mom.

  • ... most of the wise, mature, sensible women I know / Have nothing but disdain for Mother's Day, / Which they rightfully declare to be a crass, commercial way / Of getting guilty children to spend money. / Furthermore, I am hoping that I / Will turn into one of those wise, mature, sensible women / Long before this current decade is through. / But meanwhile, if you know what's good for you, / Send flowers.

    • Judith Viorst,
    • "A Letter to My Sons About Mother's Day," I'm Too Young to Be Seventy ()
  • I've never heard a person say, 'I had a rotten mother, but she's such a great physicist.'

  • Mothers ... would do anything to steer their daughter the right way. It is frustrating beyond measure for them when a daughter screams, 'You don't understand, and you'll never understand!' The mother stamps her foot in aggravation, but in this case the daughter is right: the mother doesn't understand. She merely remembers, and memory is separate from experience.

  • What do you do with mother love and mother wit when the babies are grown and gone away?

  • My children ... have been a constant joy to me (except on the days when they weren't).

  • There is probably no greater anxiety in life than going home to visit your mother for Christmas.

  • The woman who bore me is no longer alive, but I seem to be her daughter in increasingly profound ways.

  • Oh, Mama, when I lose you I'll lose my only true witness!

    • Wanda Coleman,
    • "Dear Mama: Words Having Failed," in Constance Warloe, ed., I've Always Meant to Tell You ()
  • No beating of her wings, however frenzied, can save her child a single pain, she cannot even make it happy, cannot ward off the bitterness of life's experiences as the child grows older. No mother-love can keep away death — not that death is terrible, but the dying often is.

  • I know her face by heart. Sometimes I think nothing will break her spell.

  • My mother is the source of my unease in the world and thus the only person who can make me feel at home in the world.

  • Mother, in ways neither of us can ever understand, / I have come home.

  • A woman has no reflection so pristine as her mother; no stronger ally, no greater enemy — except perhaps, herself.

  • When a woman feels the first grip of her child's dependence upon her, she has forever lost her freedom. If the child dies, a grave shackles her soul through life. If the child lives, the welfare of that child keeps perpetually between her and the sun.

  • [On her mother, who died when Hutton was 4:] I hardly remember her, but I have missed her all my life.

    • Barbara Hutton,
    • in Allen Churchill, The Upper Crust: An Informal History of New York's Highest Society ()
  • Mothers smell blood before the wound is given. We see the rent place on the child's arm before the arrow strikes.

  • it was good for the virgin mary / it was good enough for mary / it was good for the virgin mary / its good enough for me.

  • Where are those songs / my mother and yours / always sang / fitting rhythms / to the whole / vast span of life?

  • Stepmothers in books usually behave very spitefully towards the children entrusted to them. But he was now learning by his own experience that in real life this does not always happen.

  • Single mothers, married mothers, even stepmothers are basically a patient lot. They have to be or they would devour their offspring early on, like guppies.

  • There is a place where women are buried in clothes the color of flames, where we drop coffee on the ground for those who went ahead, where the daughter is never fully a woman until her mother has passed on before her. There is always a place where, if you listen closely in the night, you will hear your mother telling a story and at the end of the tale, she will ask you this question: 'Ou libéré? Are you free, my daughter?'

  • Do not join Encounter groups. If you enjoy being made to feel inadequate, call your mother.

  • I believe that always, or almost always, in all childhoods and in all the lives that follow them, the mother represents madness. Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we've ever met.

  • [On her troubled relationships with her daughters:] You can acquire enemies. Why give birth to them?

  • There are those people who love their mothers, just so; and there are those who, out of whatever accident of temperament have to be in love with them.

  • My mother's one idea was to sacrifice her life to her children and she had done nothing else since the death of my father. We wished that she had married again instead.

  • When a daughter loses a mother, the intervals between grief responses lengthen over time, but her longing never disappears. It always hovers at the edge of her awareness, prepared to surface at any time, in any place, in the least expected ways.

  • Our mothers are our most direct connection to our history and gender.

  • All of our actions have in their doing the seed of their undoing. ... That in her creation of her children there should be the unspeakable promise of their death, for by their birth she had created mortal beings.

  • ... it is a little considered fact that simply in the process of becoming a mother, one does not automatically become a saint.

  • Whenever I see a headline beginning with 'Peer's Daughter' I know one of you children has been in trouble.

    • Sydney Mitford,
    • in Mary S. Lovell, The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family ()
  • In the photograph by my bed my mother is perpetually smiling on me. I guess I have forgiven us both, although sometimes in the night my dreams will take me back to the sadness, and I have to wake up and forgive us again.

  • Out of the corner of one eye, I could see my mother. Out of the corner of the other eye, I could see her shadow on the wall, cast there by the lamplight. It was a big and solid shadow, and it looked so much like my mother that I became frightened. For I could not be sure whether for the rest of my life I would be able to tell when it was really my mother and when it was really her shadow standing between me and the rest of the world.

  • The shadow of my mother danced around the room to a tune that my own shadow sang.

    • Jamaica Kincaid,
    • "My Mother," in Stewart Brown, ed., Caribbean New Wave: Contemporary Short Stories ()
  • At that moment, I missed my mother more than I had ever imagined possible and wanted only to live somewhere quiet and beautiful with her alone, but also at that moment I wanted only to see her lying dead, all withered and in a coffin at my feet.

  • Through you / I had a vision / of life / different from yours.

    • Chungmi Kim,
    • "Daughter/Mother Dialogue" (1980), in Karen Payne, ed., Between Ourselves ()
  • Motherhood: if it were going to be easy, it never would have started with something called labor.

  • We, who have had tender, perfect mothers, would like to make it law that the other kind should always be called 'she-parents,' or 'female progenitors,' or any other descriptive title, but not profane the sacred name of mother!

  • ... the mother's first job is to raise a daughter strong enough to outlast her.

  • Mothers are caught in a perfect Catch-22. They are supposed to be concerned with emotions and closeness in relationships, but because autonomy has been designated by the white male middle class in North America as the pinnacle of emotional health, both mothers and those offspring who remain close to them are treated as immature or even sick.

  • Wherever there's trouble — that's where Billy is! Sometimes ... I say to myself, 'Lillian, you should have stayed a virgin.'

  • Motherhood is always an act of courage.

  • It is one of the strange things which we meet with in life that a mother frequently allows herself to become absolutely blinded as to her children's morals and habits.

  • To American mothers, on whose intelligence and discretion the safety and prosperity of our Republic so much depend, this volume is respectfully inscribed.

  • My mother's soul is alive and well and taking up space inside my head. She's always been there, and she'll always be there. She's pure essence now, a life force — a demented, dark, jealous, unhappy life force.

  • ... I went so far in trying not to be my own crazy mother that I ended up becoming a different crazy mother.

  • My mother is a poem I'll never be able to write / though everything I write is a poem to my mother ...

    • Sharon Doubiago,
    • in Tillie Olsen, Mother to Daughter, Daughter to Mother ()
  • I notice that many great poets emerge from motherless childhoods. They are either early orphans or their mothers are not mentioned at all. It is not so amazing that many of these same artists turned out to be hounded by depression, drugs, and insanity, but did being motherless also drive them to creativity?

  • Mother as an ideal is unfair in the same manner as woman as a sex object.

  • Two new beings are brought forth during childbirth: a newborn and a mother.

  • This is mother we are speaking of. / There is nothing she wouldn't do for us / insistent about how wonderful we can be / but almost never are.

  • ... she did not understand how her father could have reached such age and such eminence without learning that all mothers are as infallible as any pope and more righteous than any saint.

  • Not alone is the child born through the mother, but the mother also is born through the child.

  • I was born inside you once / but you have been born / and died a thousand times / inside my mind.

    • Annie Reiner,
    • "To My Mother," in Constance Warloe, ed., I've Always Meant to Tell You ()
  • I sharpen more and more to your / Likeness every year ...

    • Michele Wolf,
    • "For My Mother," in Sandra Martz, ed., When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple ()
  • There is one friend in this world that hardly ever deserts us — and that is a mother.

  • Mothers have a way about them. They magically recur in life, not just in person or telephone calls or letters. They show up in aromas and flowers, the shapes of sapphires, even the feel of a fabric or napkin folds. ... She is everywhere even though she is nowhere.

  • A mother's love perceives no impossibilities.

  • There is no division nor subtraction in the heart-arithmetic of a good mother. There are only addition and multiplication.

  • Why should I be reasonable? I'm your mother.

    • Lynne Alpern,
    • in Lynne Alpern and Esther Blumenfeld, Oh, Lord, I Sound Just Like Mama ()
  • I was on a corner the other day when a wild-looking sort of gypsy-looking lady with a dark veil over her face grabbed me right on Ventura Boulevard and said, 'Karen Haber! You're never going to find happiness, and no one is ever going to marry you.' I said, 'Mom, leave me alone.'

    • Karen Haber,
    • in Ronald L. Smith, ed., The Comedy Quote Dictionary ()
  • ... many tender, delicate mothers, seem to think that to make their children eat, is all that is requisite to make them great.

  • ... sometimes the best mothering was no mothering at all.

  • No one else, ever, will think you're great the way your mother does.

  • Being a housewife and a mother is the biggest job in the world, but if it doesn't interest you, don't do it. It didn't interest me, so I didn't do it. Anyway, I would have made a terrible parent. The first time my child didn't do what I wanted, I'd kill him.

  • As long as fathers rule but do not nurture, as long as mothers nurture but do not rule, the conditions favoring the development of father-daughter incest will prevail.

  • How I longed to merge into her, to disappear into her so that no longer would I be separated from her or separate from her. No longer would I exist ... for to know the mystery of her would be to know the mystery of myself. It was all I hoped for.

  • And it came to me, and I knew what I had to have before my soul would rest. I wanted to belong — to belong to my mother. And in return — I wanted my mother to belong to me.

  • ... a mother is God's deputy on earth.

  • I had come to feel that my mother's love for me was designed solely to make me into an echo of her; and I didn't know why, but I felt that I would rather be dead than become just an echo of someone.

  • She [my mother] said that mothers had a thousand thoughts to get through with in a day, and that most of these were about avoiding disaster.

  • ... having a baby ... brought home to me with real force the hopelessly unbalanced nature of a society which is organized solely for the needs of people without responsibility for children. As a journalist and a trades unionist, I am constantly forced to make excuses and ask favors of a childless society.

    • Angela Phillips,
    • "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back?" in Michelene Wandor, ed., On Gender and Writing ()
  • No companion however wise, no friend however useful, can be to me what my mother has been: her image will long pursue my fancy; her voice for ever hang in my ears: may her precepts but sink into my heart!

    • Hester Lynch Piozzi,
    • letter to Dr. Johnson (1773), in R. Brimley Johnson, ed., The Letters of Mrs. Thrale ()
  • Now, as always, the most automated appliance in a household is the mother.

    • Beverly Jones,
    • "The Dynamics of Marriage and Motherhood," The Florida Paper on Women's Liberation ()
  • My mom is very possessive. She calls me up and says, 'You weren't home last night. Is something going on?' I say, 'Yeah, Mom, I'm cheating on you with another mother.'

  • She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along.

  • A daughter is a mother's gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters' role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships.

  • But if you've ever had a mother and if she's given you and meant to you all the things you care for most, you never get over it.

  • The phrase 'working mother' is redundant.

  • It is misleading and unfair to imply that an intelligent woman must 'rise above' her maternal instincts and return to work when many intelligent, sensitive women have found that the reverse is better for them.

  • i am not you anymore / i am my own collection of / gifts and errors.

    • Saundra Sharp,
    • "Double Exposure," in Patricia Bell-Scott et al., eds., Double Stitch ()
  • Here we are, naked lovers, / beautiful to each other — and that's enough — / the leaves of our eyelids our only covers, / we're lying amidst deep night.

  • I would rather eat nails and sleep on an off-ramp than live with my mother again.

  • I cannot forget my mother. Though not as sturdy as others, she is my bridge. When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely.

    • Renita Jo Weems,
    • "Hush, Mama's Gotta Go Bye-Bye," in Patricia Bell-Scott et al., eds., Double Stitch ()
  • This book, by any yet unread, / I leave for you when I am dead, / That, being gone, here you may find / What was your living mother's mind. / Make use of what I leave in love, / And God shall bless you from above.

    • Anne Bradstreet,
    • "To My Dear Children" (1656), in Frank Easton Hopkins, ed., The Poems of Mrs. Anne Bradstreet 1612-1672: Together With Her Prose Remains ()
  • I have no fresh-from-the-oven mother-daughter recollections — only the daily creaking of cans being opened and the sucking sound of gelatinous vegetables splurting from their tin-encased vacuums. Her kitchen was filled with smoke and impatience. ... And so I grew up finding my own path, frying what could not be boiled, winging my way through life without recipes.

  • Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion and sorrow too. Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality — especially while you struggle to keep your own.

    • Elia S. Parsons,
    • in Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons, The Mother's Almanac ()
  • ... my mother ... made it clear to everyone that when it came to what she found interesting, housework and children ranked just above medieval fairs and slightly below collecting bottle caps.

  • Being a mother is a noble status, right? Right. So why does it change when you put 'unwed' or 'welfare' in front of it?

    • Florynce R. Kennedy,
    • in Gloria Steinem, "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.," Ms. ()
  • [On her mother:] I carry her with me now like a loose sweater that sucks out the chill on a snowy winter night.

  • Night after summer night the supper dishes went unwashed while we loafed together on the porch watching fireflies seedstitch the dark with gold.

  • She'll never admit that she likes you better than your sister or brother ... but she does.

    • Patricia Marx,
    • in Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Marx, 1,003 Great Things About Moms ()
  • Mothers know the difference between a broth and a consommé. And the difference between damask and chintz. And the difference between vinyl and Naugahyde. And the difference between a house and a home. And the difference between a romantic and a stalker. And the difference between a rock and a hard place.

    • Patricia Marx,
    • in Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Marx, 1,003 Great Things About Moms ()
  • All mothers are determined to do a better job than their mothers did.

    • Ann Hodgman,
    • in Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Marx, 1,003 Great Things About Moms ()
  • She has a secret, interesting past that you will never hear about. And she is much more aware of your secret, interesting past than you realize.

    • Ann Hodgman,
    • in Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Marx, 1,003 Great Things About Moms ()
  • She saves your letters from camp because she believes someday they will be valuable.

    • Ann Hodgman,
    • in Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Marx, 1,003 Great Things About Moms ()
  • She doesn't say 'I told you so' nearly as often as she could.

    • Lisa Birnbach,
    • in Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Marx, 1,003 Great Things About Moms ()
  • A Freudian slip is when you say one thing, but mean your mother.

  • Motherhood was the most insecure of all undertakings. If you stopped to think, even for a moment, every choice you made was the wrong choice.

  • I remember being in tears at the hospital after Chloe was born, at the thought that someday she would have to leave home.

  • You have to find a mother inside yourself. We all do. Even if we already have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside.

  • What fabrications they are, mothers. Scarecrows, wax dolls for us to stick pins into, crude diagrams. We deny them an existence of their own, we make them up to suit ourselves — our own hungers, our own wishes, our own deficiencies.

  • Probably there is nothing in human nature more resonant with charges than the flow of energy between two biologically alike bodies, one of which has lain in amniotic bliss inside the other, one of which has labored to give birth to the other. The materials are here for the deepest mutuality and the most painful estrangement.

  • I find it offensive to motherhood to call being a mother a job. Being a mother isn't a job. It's who someone is. It's who I am. You can quit a job. I can't quit being a mother. I'm a mother forever. Mothers are never off the clock, mothers are never on vacation.

  • In every woman of every age there lives a mother.

  • Today women live long into their children's adult lives ... too little is made of the pleasure we women feel in conversing with our grown children, and in allowing ourselves, from time to time, to think of them as friends. I have been fortunate in having children with whom conversation is possible; the sheerest pleasure here, for me, has been in meeting with them each alone ...

  • ... motherhood is an undiscovered country in the literary sense, one we must venture into lest our experience goes unrecorded, or recorded only by men.