One of the most recurring themes in literature is motherhood. It represents birthing, the creation of new life, the profound love of and care for another, or the development of feminine spirituality. Motherhood is also an enduring symbol, especially in religion and mythology: mothers are depicted as beautiful, powerful goddesses of creation that are often associated with the ocean, moon, nature, and safety of children. In Christianity, some of the most important figures are mothers: Eve (the Original Mother), Sarah (mother of Isaac), Rebekah (mother of Jacob and Esau), Jochebed (mother of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam), and Mary (the Madonna). In Eastern mythology, the mother is a creation goddess: in one tradition, the oceans were created by her uterine waters. As a fertility goddess, she rules over nature and controls the harvests. Generally speaking, however, a mother’s love represents the apotheosis of love (although, don’t write that in a Mother’s Day card, because it sounds like a COVID-related illness; incidentally the word apotheosis is form the Greek word apotheoun which means “to make a god of”); that is to say, it represents love as the ideal form: unconditional, pure, self-less, wise, comforting, unwavering — and at times it can be fierce and protective.
The concept of motherhood is not only intertwined with literature and mythology, it is also part of the English lexicon. We find that the word “mother” in many idioms that evoke the symbols and meanings we have discussed. For example, when we talk wisdom, learning from our mistakes, we say “Experience is the mother of wisdom” not “Experience is the father of wisdom.”
To honor of the mothers around the globe and through the generations who have exemplified the ideals of love for their children, for their families, for their communities — especially through the troubling trials and tribulations unleashed by the deadly coronavirus, Atkins Bookshelf presents the idioms about mothers that remind us of the eternal significance of their contributions:
at one’s/his/her mother’s knee
Diligence is the mother of good luck
everyone and his/their mother
Experience is the mother of wisdom
A face that only mother could love
He that would the daughter win, must with the mother first begin
Like mother, like daughter
mother’s little helpers
mother of pearl
The mother or all [something]
A mother has eyes in the back of her head
Necessity is the mother of invention
old enough to be one’s mother
swear on your mother’s grave
sweet Mary, mother of God
Tied to his/her/your mother’s apron strings
You kiss your mother with that mouth?
What other idioms about mothers should we include?
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For further reading: Oxford Dictionary of Idioms