An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. – Spanish Proverb

Another Mother’s Day is upon us, and we hope that those of you who still have your mothers in your lives know how lucky you are. With a few days left, our advice is to go about the Mother’s Day ritual in the usual way. First you get the card. We know it seems silly to get someone a card when you see her all the time. Don’t argue about it, okay? Just do it. Moms love cards. That and showing up is probably all you really need to do. Flowers are nice. Candy? Sure, why not. But show up if you possibly can. With a card.

Ma Barker

We tend to get sentimental about our mothers. It’s easy to forget about the times you clashed. When you were real little the clashes tended to be over bedtime or homework. For a while there we heard a lot about Asian “Tiger Moms.” We’re pretty sure most moms are tiger moms when it comes to their little darlings’ success in school. Moms read the syllabus and talk to the teachers and they know how the assignment is supposed to go. Dad would be called in to glare at you if you got sassy. Once the homework was done there would be intense multi-lateral negotiations over whether bedtime could be extended to the end of a particular television show because everybody else’s mother in the Nth grade let her kid stay up to watch it. Of course your little brother should go to bed now because he’ll just fall asleep before the first commercial and Dad will have to carry him to bed. Later, if you were still trading punches with your brother after 10 PM, the light would go on in the hall and you’d darn well better just let it go til tomorrow, being careful to note who owed who a shot.

And then you became a teenager. The horror.

I guess what we’re saying is it probably wasn’t all sweetness and light but we turned out okay in spite of, or maybe even because of the occasional strife. You may remember yourself as a good natured, apple cheeked farm boy, or a sweet innocent milkmaid. In reality you were probably somewhere on a spectrum between spawn of satan and reform school fodder. It was mom, with tactical support from dad, who kept you from wandering too far off of Main Street.

In order to fully appreciate your own sainted mom, it might be instructive to look at some famous mothers from history to see how yours and ours stack up:

Big Mama Thornton – Okay, she never did become a real mother as far as we and Wikipedia can tell. She was the first singer to record “Hound Dog” and “Ball and Chain”, though, so she had that going for her. If you didn’t know that, it’s probably because the former was covered by a young swivel-hipped fellow named Elvis Presley, the the latter by a young lady named Janis Joplin.

Ma Kettle – She was actually a fictional mother on a farm she shared with Pa Kettle and 15 highly destructive offspring. Marjorie Main played Ma and Percy Kilbride played Pa. Over the course of nine movies a lot of child actors played the kids. Marjorie never had any kids of her own. Maybe nine movies worth of fictional progeny was enough for her. Or maybe she never found a real life Pa Kettle.

Ma Barker – Finally a real mother! Ma Barker was born Arizona Clark in Ash Grove, Missouri. As a girl, she was thrilled at the sight of the Jesse James gang riding through town. At age 19 she married George Barker and the happy couple had four sons, Herman, Lloyd, Arthur and Fred. Ma’s idea of motherly guidance was to direct her boys to a life of crime. They spent their teen years in and out of jail and after 23 years, Pa Barker saw the handwriting on the post office wall and amscrayed. Ma and the boys went on a crime spree that included murder and multiple bank robberies. Can’t you just hear her telling them to sit up straight for their mugshots and wear clean underwear for the bank heist?

So yeah, there are bad mothers too. Just be thankful you got such a good one.

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