Mother Knows Best

Letter from the Editor

Rebecca PowersMother is disappearing.

Have you noticed? She’s vanished from morning television, newspaper headlines, TV dramas, evening newscasts, and politics. In her place is the more familiar “mom.”

It’s one of those word trends that talking heads latch onto and perpetuate, like saying “gone missing,” instead of vanished or disappeared.

With “mom” we get stories about ladies who seek support groups, makeovers, and girlfriend outings with chocolate. With mother, you get Mother Earth, Mother Lode, Mother Nature, Mothers of Invention. It’s a strong title, one that a previous generation of rolling-pin wielding ladies of the house no doubt preferred.

Our world needs more tough old birds and fewer “moms” shopping with their teenage daughters while looking like them, too.

There’s nothing like a good scolding. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, in her nationally televised announcement of charges against Kwame Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty, sounded briefly like a welcome and stern mother figure for the city.

In the broadest sense of the word, we — men and women — need to mother our surroundings in a way that keeps it a healthy place.

Mothers, instead of bonding over cosmos, “manis,” and “pedis,” could channel their reputed “soccer-mom” clout against smoking in restaurants and pop machines in school cafeterias. They could emulate Mother Nature and promote kindness to animals so there is less need for refuge farms such as the one we profile on page 72.

My grandparents had a farm not far from that animal haven. And my mother’s memories recall the kind of childhood Eden that we all long for, even as adults. She and her brothers and sisters would take turns riding in an old baby carriage, screaming all the while they careened down a hill toward a creek on their property in Manchester.

The daughter of an electrician, my mother liked to say she came from a long line of horse thieves. It was her joking way of dismissing familial pretense. Her foundation was Irish-German, but her focus was on the next generation and her contribution of five children.

In the movie Bull Durham, Kevin Costner’s character asks, “How come in their former life everybody was someone famous?” The same goes for genealogy. (Everyone, it seems, hopes they’ll discover royalty in their bloodlines.) In truth, personal history is fascinating. Our story on page 44 discusses the popularity of computerized ancestry searches and how to document your kinfolk.

A portion of my own family has been chronicled back to pre-Revolutionary America. But, if you want to know where you came from, my mother might say, “Look in the mirror.”

In this month for honoring matriarchs, take time to recognize someone who mothered you with a sweet gift (we offer several ideas on page 62). Then look in the mirror, consider the effort invested on your behalf, and pay it forward.