They say father knows best, but in our experience it’s mother who is usually right. In honor of Mother’s Day on May 14—and in honor of those women who love us unconditionally and yet won’t hesitate to kick our butts in line long after we’re old enough to know better—we’ve collected words of wisdom from and about some of our favorite literary moms. (Still hunting for that perfect gift for the mother, grandmother, aunt, wife, or other special mom in your life? Bas Bleu can help!)
Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning—because that ain’t the time at all…when you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is. —Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt or fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build laughter out of inadequate materials….She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall. —John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
This earthly life is a battle, said Ma. If it isn’t one thing to contend with, it’s another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and more thankful for your pleasures. —Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie
It’s come at last, she thought, the time when you can no longer stand between your children and heartache. When there wasn’t enough food in the house you pretended that you weren’t hungry so they could have more. In the cold of a winter’s night you got up and put your blanket on their bed so they wouldn’t be cold. You’d kill anyone who tried to harm them…. Then one sunny day, they walk out in all innocence and they walk right into the grief that you’d give your life to spare them from. ―Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
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