Quotations about motherhood and mothers, whether general or specific. Also included: Mother Earth and Mother Nature.

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Life on the planet is born of woman.

— Adrienne Rich

They blame the low income women for ruining the country because they are staying home with their children and not going out to work. They blame the middle income women for ruining the country because they go out to work and do not stay home to take care of their children.

— Ann Richards

It is surely imperative that maternity be not left chiefly to those who cannot make the highest success in any other craft. If marriage should become, even for a generation or two, chiefly a refuge from destitution or a harbor from the world of individual effort for those who have failed, the disastrous results would be a heavy burden for later times.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

And when her biographer says of an Italian woman poet, ‘during some years her Muse was intermitted,’ we do not wonder at the fact when he casually mentions her ten children.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

No book has yet been written in praise of a woman who let her husband and children starve or suffer while she invented even the most useful things, or wrote books, or expressed herself in art, or evolved philosophic systems.

— Anna Garlin Spencer, Woman’s Share in Social Culture, 1912

To the highest leadership among women it is given to hold steadily in one hand the sacred vessels that hold the ancient sanctities of life, and in the other a flaming torch to light the way for oncoming generations.

— Anna Garlin Spencer

Recently a young mother asked for advice. What, she wanted to know, was she to do with a 7-year-old who was obstreperous, outspoken, and inconveniently willful? ‘Keep her,’ I replied…. The suffragettes refused to be polite in demanding what they wanted or grateful for getting what they deserved. Works for me.

— Anna Quindlen

She regarded me as a piece of fiction — like one of her novels — that she could edit and improve.

— Anthony West, about his mother, Rebecca West

A Humanist Code of Ethics:
Do no harm to the earth, she is your mother.
Being is more important than having.
Never promote yourself at another’s expense.
Hold life sacred; treat it with reverence.
Allow each person the digity of his or her labor.
Open your home to the wayfarer.
Be ready to receive your deepest dreams;
sometimes they are the speech of unblighted conscience.
Always make restitutions to the ones you have harmed.
Never think less of yourself than you are.
Never think that you are more than another.

— Arthur Dobrin

Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.

— Barbara De Angelis

I was a shy, wistful sort of moppet who never in this world would have got ahead if it had not been for my mother.

— Billie Burke

When the mother of the race is free, we shall have a better world, by the easy right of birth and by the calm, slow, friendly forces of evolution.

— Charlotte Perkins Gilman

So when the great word “Mother!” rang once more,
I saw at last its meaning and its place;
Not the blind passion of the brooding past,
But Mother—the World’s Mother—come at last,
To love as she had never loved before—
To feed and guard and teach the human race.

— Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Life is nothing but a series of crosses for us mothers.

— Colette

I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.

— Coretta Scott King

I suppose I experienced the personal dilemma that baffles every working woman. What happens when you are expected to be Superwoman, to perform a dozen conflicting tasks at the same time?

— Coretta Scott King

Part of the reason [motherly advice] bugs us as daughters is because our mothers are so powerful in our lives. They loom like giants. The reason mothers keep at it is because they’re so powerless. They cannot get you to do what is so obvious to them you should do.

— Deborah Tannen

Feminists have emphasized for a long time the importance of each woman’s individual entity and the necessity of economic independence. Perhaps it was necessary. But now I think we need some emphasis on the instinctive side of life, sex and motherhood. … Life isn’t all earning your living. Unfortunately we fall in love and Feminism must take that into consideration.

— Dora Russell

Women do not have to sacrifice personhood if they are mothers. They do not have to sacrifice motherhood in order to be persons. Liberation was meant to expand women’s opportunities, not to limit them. The self-esteem that has been found in new pursuits can also be found in mothering.

— Elaine Heffner

Women need not always keep their mouths shut and their wombs open.

— Emma Goldman

A woman should be a home-keeper, but she should also go out from her home. She should take part in the struggle of society to create new and better conditions in politics, in social life, in religion. The real home-keeper should be in touch with the larger life of the world, in order that she may bring the breath of larger interests into her life, in order that she may open the windows of her home and let in the fresh breezes of the intellectual world around her. The finest, highest conception of a modern mother is that of one who trains the growing generation to take their places in the new world which is at present in the making, and how can she do this unless she herself carries the new world in her heart, is receptive to the great ideas that are struggling to be, and comprehends them?

— Felix Adler

Already complaints are multiplying on every hand that that most gracious quality of all that adorns the age of childhood — the quality of reverence — is fast fading from our schools and households; that the oldtime respect for father and mother is diminished, and grown rarer and more uncertain.

— Felix Adler

My mother always says people should be able to take care of themselves, even if they’re rich and important.

— Frances Hodgson Burnett

Fear is the mother of morality

— Friedrich Nietzsche

She was maintaining the prime truth of woman, the universal mother: that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

— G. K. Chesterton

Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but . . . life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

— Gabriel García Márquez

Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. It has no mother.

— Germaine Greer

For a male child to become a man, he has to reject his mother. It’s an essential part of masculinisation.

— Germaine Greer

Mother is the dead heart of the family, spending father’s earnings on consumer goods to enhance the environment in which he eats, sleeps, and watches the television.

— Germaine Greer

After centuries of conditioning of the female into the condition of perpetual girlishness called femininity, we cannot remember what femaleness is. Though feminists have been arguing for years that there is a self-defining female energy, and a female libido that is not expressed merely in response to demands by the male, and a female way of being and of experiencing the world, we are still not close to understanding what it might be. Yet every mother who has held a girl child in her arms has known that she was different from a boy child and that she would approach the reality around her in a different way. She is a female and she will die female, and though many centuries should pass, archaeologists would identify her skeleton as the remains of a female creature.

— Germaine Greer

The only perfect love to be found on earth is not sexual love, which is riddled with hostility and insecurity, but the wordless commitment of families, which takes as its model mother-love. This is not to say that fathers have no place, for father-love, with its driving for self-improvement and discipline, is also essential to survival, but that uncorrected father-love, father-love as it were practiced by both parents, is a way to annihilation.

— Germaine Greer

The compelled mother loves her child as the caged bird sings. The song does not justify the cage nor the love the enforcement.

— Germaine Greer

All that remains to the mother in modern consumer society is the role of scapegoat; psychoanalysis uses huge amounts of money and time to persuade analysis and to foist their problems on to the absent mother, who has no opportunity to utter a word in her own defense. Hostility to the mother in our societies is an index of mental health.

— Germaine Greer

Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.

— Harriet Beecher Stowe

People in cities may forget the soil for as long as a hundred years, but Mother Nature’s memory is long and she will not let them forget indefinitely.

— Henry A. Wallace

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.

— Honore de Balzac

I grew up with a single mother, and I wasn’t out shooting too many guns.

— Jason Momoa

The fair lovely word “mother” is so sweet and so kind in itself that it cannot truly be said of anyone or to anyone except of him and to him who is the true mother of life and of all things. To the property of motherhood belong nature, love, wisdom, and knowledge, and this is God.

— Julian of Norwich

The fair lovely word “mother” is so sweet and so kind in itself that it cannot truly be said of anyone or to anyone except of him and to him who is the true mother of life and of all things. To the property of motherhood belong nature, love, wisdom, and knowledge, and this is God.

— Julian of Norwich

O sweep of stars over Harlem streets,
O little breath of oblivion that is night.
A city building to a mother’s song,
A city dreaming to a lullaby.

— Langston Hughes

I united myself with my forefathers: the father, mother, and grandparents I loved. They and all my predecessors believed and lived, and they produced me.

— Leo Tolstoy

The Hebrew word for faith in the Old Testament is emoonah. What makes that word interesting is that it’s the
sound that a baby donkey makes when it is calling for its mother. To appreciate that, you have to say emoonah
so it sounds like that. If you want to hear the meaning of emoonah, you need to say it like braying. I sometimes
think to myself, if you say it soft, it’s almost like braying. The point being that faith in the Hebrew Bible is like a
baby donkey calling out or crying for its mother. There’s something kind of wonderful about that. There is an
element…I don’t know if you want to say of desperation in it or not, but there certainly is an element of
confidence also that the cry will be heard.

— Marcus Borg

No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.

— Margaret Sanger

A free race cannot be born of slave mothers.

— Margaret Sanger

I know enough to know that no woman should ever marry a man who hated his mother.

— Martha Gellhorn, Selected Letters

I know enough to know that no woman should ever marry a man who hated his mother.

— Martha Gellhorn

We are not born all at once, but by bits. The body first, and the spirit later; and the birth and growth of the spirit, in those who are attentive to their own inner life, are slow and exceedingly painful. Our mothers are racked with the pains of our physical birth; we ourselves suffer the longer pains of our spiritual growth.

— Mary Antin

No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self-deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.

— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

In the name of that which implants in the seed the future of the tree and in the hearts of humanity the longing for people living in neighborly love; In the name of the highest, in whom we move and who makes the mother, the father, brother, and the sister what they are; In the name of sages and great religious leaders, who sacrificed their lives to hasten the coming of the kingdom of peace and justice; Let us renew our resolution sincerely to be real brothers and sisters regardless of any kind of barrier which estranges person from person. In this holy resolution may we be strengthened, knowing that we are one family; that one spirit, the spirit of love, unites us; and that our work together for a more perfect and more joyful life leads us on.

— Norbert Capek

My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general; if you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.

— Pablo Picasso
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