Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2019

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Where I Stand:

A mother’s role in life is the most important of all

Today is Mother’s Day, lest no husband or father forget it. My father, Hank Greenspun, wrote many Mother’s Day columns in his career but the one that follows, written 60 years ago, captures not only a bygone time and understanding but, also, creates a picture of Mom that fits even today — especially today. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in my life and to mothers everywhere.

— Brian Greenspun


“M” is for the million things she gave me.

“O” means only that she’s growing old,

“T” is for the tears she shed to save me.

“H” is for her heart as pure as gold …”

Mothers have been memo­rialized in song and immortalized in verse. They have been worshipped by good children and scorned by brats.

We know that little boys are made of snails and rails and puppy dog tails and little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. But has anyone ever won­dered what mothers are made of?

Someone once said that the Creator couldn’t be every place himself, so he made mothers.

If this is so, and I can’t dispute it because of my mother, then he must have welded many things into the pattern, for a mother has to be made of steel and gold, velvet and sugar, a bit of a of lioness and a lot of a lamb.

Mother must be something special or she would not have a special day set aside to do her honor. And though her day was given official recognition by an act of Congress on May 8, 1914, which proclaimed the second Sunday in May as national Mother’s Day, the festival of Mother’s Day goes back to ancient Greece when formal mother worship with ceremonies to Cybele, the great mother of the Gods, were performed on the ides of March.

Of all the days set aside each year to pay tribute to presidents, holy days, national holidays and other special events, I can think of none more worthy than Mother’s Day.

Her role in life is the most important of all, for nothing else compares to the wonderful privilege of bringing a new life into this world. And to guide that new little being along the ways of goodness and decency sometimes requires the patience and forbearance of an angel. Only a mother can do it.

She must be strong in her convictions with strength of a thousand Samsons, for it takes exceptional strength to mete out punishment to those little ones she loves so dearly so that they can learn to live in a world where cer­tain customs and regulations guide all their activities.

She must be soft as vel­vet when her child needs comfort, and always loving and considerate when they need help.

She must be all things to all people. To her family she is the diplomat who solves family squabbles. She is the keeper of the home, the auditor of all accounts. She always remains beautiful, even in the midst of the most trying of days. She is the peacemaker between the father and the tribe. And many times she is the conspirator when a teenage daughter wants a new gown, or a young boy’s heart is set on a bicycle.

Mothers perform many roles: in the morning as a chauffeur getting children off to school; during the day an interior decorator, painter, housecleaner and keeper of all sorts of animals like dogs, birds, kittens, turtles or white mice.

Mothers never really sleep. They lay their head down upon the pillow, but every nerve is like a tiny radio set,sending and receiving signals when a child’s breathing might become irregular or a petulant voice “wants a drink of water.”

And best of all mothers never stop being mothers, and there is no power on earth that can change them.

Fully grown men and women are still the children to whom they gave birth, and mothers will fuss over adult problems just as they did when their help was required with nursery rhymes.

Is all this too much to expect of one individual? It is, but somehow, mothers seem to have no trouble living up to all the requirements it takes to be a mother.

So, to Doris Rhiner, who wanted to know the origin of Mother’s Day, to my mother — to the mother of my children and to mothers everywhere — a happy and peaceful Mother’s Day.

And to fathers, husbands and sons — have you forgotten to remember that this is the second Sunday in May?