The wisdom of mothers is often overlooked in our culture. Mothers are often maligned, under-appreciated, blamed, complained about, put on pedestals, chained to kitchen sinks, or just plain ignored. They are framed as overbearing, uncaring, selfish, controlling, old-fashioned, meddling… They are the stuff of horrid childhood pasts and scary mother-in-law futures. In films, they are often killed off to be replaced by “evil stepmothers” or wonderfully benevolent fathers.

Anyone, as the work of Sara Ruddick and other feminist theorists reveal, can “mother” – mothering need not be done by a biological female – mothering is an act, a state of mind, a way of caring for other bodies of the world and nurturing them – of giving others wings so that they too may soar.

If only “mother-wisdom” shaped the world instead of the “domineering father wisdom” of patriarchal imperialism…

Here are 25 invaluable things my mother taught me. Thanks mom, for giving me my wings. And happy birthday!

1.       That bodies of all different shapes and sizes are beautiful

2.       That “playing hooky” to see a movie is not only okay, but sometimes necessary

3.       That eating is a source of pleasure and sustenance, not shame

4.       That cooking (done right) is an art, not a chore

5.       That dishes ARE a chore and should not be done only by “the mother” in the house

6.       That cookbooks are far more than utilitarian

7.       That beauty in all its forms is a necessary, sustaining part of life

8.       That being a mother is hard work, but hard work of the best kind

9.       That quality is more important than quantity

10.   That bookstores and libraries are as necessary as air

11.   That barbies are dumb

12.   That writing is transformative – of the self and the other

13.   That listening is a supreme act of love

14.   That plays, musicals, and travel are worth saving for

15.   That a few well chosen words can make all the difference

16.   That a person who worries about their hairstyle or waist-size more than other people is not worth worrying about

17.   That women’s places/spaces are a necessity

18.   That family (and world) HERstory is important

19.   That females are invaluable even though they are not valued

20.   That the age indicated via one’s date of birth can be radically different than the age one feels/acts (and that one never need be “old” in their thinking/acting)

21.   That being a good conversationalist is far more important than being good looking

22.   That family is what you make it

23.   That store bought cookies are no substitute for homemade, and that a well-stocked candy jar turns a house into a home

24.   That real is better than fake – both in terms of butter and in terms of boobs

25.   That birthdays  are worth celebrating

4 thoughts on “What if mother-wisdom shaped the world?

  1. Pingback: Mothers
  2. Yes, REAL butter is super-important! I am not a mother and never intend to be, but this is an excellent list, and an excellent re-definition of what it means to be a “mother.”


  3. Habladora,
    I’m honored you sent this post on to your mom. Thanks.

    I am with you on the real butter all the way! I heard that most animals REFUSE to eat margarine — even when starving. Apparently flies won’t touch it. Now, if an animal that lives off shit won’t eat the stuff, that’s saying something.

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