Your mama! But I mean that in a nice way

Edward Cone
News & Record


Mother's Day, that bastard child of Hallmark and Freud, is the made-up holiday we would not ignore even if we dared. You loved her before you knew her, and it goes both ways. "A mother who is really a mother is never free," said Balzac, which is French for "I hope you bought a card." To celebrate moms, including my own and the one with whom I toil to raise children, I offer this column about mothers and motherhood. But I'm also getting flowers.

A good song that blames mom for all your grown-up problems is "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mothers," written by Ray Wylie Hubbard and best performed by Jerry Jeff Walker. A good song that lets mom off the hook is "Mama Tried" by Merle Haggard. Today, go with Merle.

If your mother sang you to sleep each night with that Pink Floyd song from "The Wall" that goes, "Mama's gonna make all of your nightmares come true, Mama's gonna put all of her fears into you... you'll always be Baby to me," well, you may be excused from today's festivities. Also applies if your mom named you "Electra" or "Norman Bates."

Hot moms are very big these days. You've got your "Desperate Housewives," that whole Demi Moore-Ashton Kutcher thing, and of course the song about Stacy's mom by Fountains of Wayne, complete with Rachel Hunter in a video homage to the climactic scene of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Do not discuss any of this with your own mom at brunch.

"If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." This is true and the sooner you realize it the better off you will be.

According to the online reference site Wikipedia, "Mother of vinegar is a slime...that develops on fermenting alcoholic liquids." Wikipedia also has an entry for "Your mom," also known as "yo mamma," which it defines as "a very specific form of crude joke, also known as the dozens or snapping, consisting of an exaggerated characteristic being attributed to the target's mother, usually pertaining to an often erroneous weight problem, or a mental deficiency of some sort."

Jewish mothers get kind of a bad rap as being overprotective and for bragging about their children. This is no more true of Jewish mothers than it is of most mothers, as I learned when my mom made me borrow some long underwear from an Episcopalian mom when I was a Boy Scout in 1973. My mother thinks that story is just adorable, even though I did not grow up to be a doctor.

You would not want to play Scrabble against my mom, my kids' mom or my mother-in-law. It's like going to war against the Amazons, and there is no maternal instinct with a triple-word score on the line. I never really got that Mother of All Battles thing the Iraqis used to talk about because it seems like the Mother of All Battles would make both sides go their rooms to think about why fighting is bad, but Scrabble with these mothers might fit the bill.

One of the things I've always liked about Catholicism is that it devotes a lot attention to Mary and her embodiment of maternal love, which is a profound recognition of some very elemental and essential things about life, and thus a really nice part of the religious tradition.

Erma Bombeck said, "The art of never making a mistake is crucial to motherhood. To be effective and to gain the respect she needs to function, a mother must have her children believe she has never engaged in sex, never made a bad decision, never caused her own mother a moment's anxiety, and was never a child." She was joking, I think, because otherwise that is some rotten advice.

Your mother knows. But she probably won't tell.

Edward Cone (, writes a column for the News & Record most Sundays.

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