The Lady Speaks

Jenn’s Sunday Sermon – Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day.

Julia Ward Howe (1819 – 1910) is best known as the poet-author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” which was published in the Atlantic Monthly, and later set to music to become the most well-known song of the Civil War.

She was an active campaigner against slavery and war and for the women’s right to vote. In 1868, she founded the New England Women’s Suffrage Association. A year later, she and Lucy Stone founded the American Woman Suffrage Association.

Her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” is as important today as it was at its writing, 137 years ago:

Mother’s Day Proclamation

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,

Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace

– Julia Ward Howe

* *

To my mother:

It wasn’t until I became a mother that I began to appreciate what you’d done and endured in raising five kids. Whether it was fishing MatchBox cars out of the backed-up toilet or taking a daredevil bike rider to the emergency room or trying to wrangle three kids into clean clothes in time for school, you were there to assure me that “They really do grow out of it.”

It wasn’t until Miss M. became a teenager that I began to feel sorry for having been a whiny, rebellious, know-it-all, convinced of her own ability to direct her life and find the happy ending. I’m lucky you let me live. Which is why, as I’ve dealt with hormonal mood swings and slamming doors and screams of “I hate you!” I’m so grateful you’ve been there to assure me that “They really do grow out of it.”

It wasn’t until RC turned 18 that I realized a mother’s worries don’t end with adulthood, they just become more complicated, and that you have to stand back, bite your tongue and keep yourself from interfering while they work it out.

It wasn’t until PK moved to his dad’s that I realized how hard it must have been for you to let me marry and move to Arizona. And how, sometimes, doing the right thing and letting them go is the hardest thing of all.

I’ve always known you loved me, but it took having children of my own to teach me just how much.

Thank you, for all you do and all you’ve done.

Love you muchly,


* *

This poem never fails to make me cry. I wish I knew who wrote it, but not even the great and mighty Google could help me find the author.

This is for mothers of the flesh and mothers of the heart; for married mothers and single mothers, for fathers doing their best to raise their children alone; for foster parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, relatives of every stripe who have stepped in to help raise a child, for whatever reason.

For mothers in war-torn lands, and mothers living in peaceful ones trying to stop the carnage.

For all of us:

This is for all the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, “It’s OK honey, Mommy’s here.” when they keep crying and won’t stop.

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.

For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON’T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they’ll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

This is for all the mothers who froze their buns off on metal bleachers at football or soccer games Friday night instead of watching from cars,so that when their kids asked, “Did you see me?” they could say, “Of course, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet like a tired 2-year old who wants ice cream before dinner.

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the mothers who wanted to but just couldn’t. For all the mothers who read “Goodnight, Moon” twice a night for a year, and then read it again. “Just one more time.”

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.

This is for all mothers whose heads turn automatically when a little voice calls ” Mom ?” in a crowd, even though they know their own off spring are at home.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they’d be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up right away.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can’t find the words to reach them.

For all the mothers who bite their lips sometimes until they bleed–when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.

What makes a good Mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time? Or is it heart? Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?

The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib 2 A.M. to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby? The need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying?

For all the mothers of the victims of all these school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting.

For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school safely.

This is for mothers who put pinwheels and teddy bears on their children’s graves.

This is for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation.

And mature mothers learning to let go.

For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.

Single mothers and married mothers.

Mothers with money, mothers without.

This is for you all. So hang in there.

— Unknown

* *

Whether a grown man or a toddler, a high school senior or a preteen girl – there are mothers everywhere who would give anything for one last hug, one last kiss, one last whispered “I love you.”

Take the time to be grateful if you are not among them.


May 12, 2007 - Posted by | America, Mom, Women, World Peace


  1. Interesting poem for mother Day from 1870.Rich

    Comment by Riki | May 13, 2007 | Reply

  2. Thank you for all your kind words.
    I always thought your poem about mothers was by Erma Bombeck, but could not find in in any of her collections. So, I must be mistaken. However, here is on of Erma’s best:

    by Erma Bombeck

    (published without permission…hope she doesn’t mind -tjw)

    When the good Lord was creating mothers,grandmothers, great-grandmothers, godmothers and all who mother us, he was into the sixth day of “overtime” when the angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

    And the Lord said, “Have you seen the specs on this order?” “She has to be completely washable, but not plastic; Have 180 moveable parts… all replaceable; Run on black coffee and leftovers; Have a lap that disappears when she stands up; A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair; And six pairs of hands.”

    The angel shook her head slowly and said,” Six pairs of hands…no way!”

    “It’s not the hands that are causing the problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

    ” That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

    The Lord nodded. ” One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, “What are you kids doing in there?” when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here infront that can look at a child when he goofs up and say ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

    “Lord,” said the angel, touching his sleeve gently, “Come to bed. Tomorrow…”

    “I can’t,” said the Lord, ” I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick… can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger… and can get a nine year old to stand under the shower.”

    The angel circled the model of the mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

    “But tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

    “Can it think?”

    “Not only think, but it can reason and comprimise,” said the Creator.

    Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak, ” she pronounced. “I told you you were trying to put too much into this model.”

    “It’s not a leak,” said the Lord, “it’s s tear.”

    “What’s it for?”

    ” It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride.”

    “You’re a genius!” said the angel.

    The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there.”

    Comment by mom | May 14, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] From Jenn’s Sunday Sermon – Happy Mother’s Day (2007): […]

    Pingback by Happy Belated Mother’s Day « The Lady Speaks | May 12, 2008 | Reply

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