- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 13, 2006

To all our splendid mothers: May the next 24 hours be rosy, scented, sunny, sweet, heartfelt, fulfilling, felicitous, delicious, harmonious and blissful. May the children be cheerful, the dad dutiful and the neighbors neighborly.

May the pets stay off the furniture and the garbage disposal whirl with vigor. May there be a bubble bath in the forecast.

May Laura Bush have a particularly swell day, not to mention Barbara Bush and Jenna Welch — mommies to the most powerful couple on the planet.

While we’re on planetary matters, may the United Nations organize the International Disapproving Mothers Behavioral Enforcement Committee to bring rogue nations in line, or at least into compliance with nuclear proliferation agreements.

This makes perfect sense.

Imagine. Mothers on shuttle-diplomacy duty around the globe, riding in a platoon of camouflage minivans or a squadron of tasteful pink and pale green B-52s — ready, willing and able to ground unruly dictators for the whole weekend, with no driving privileges. At minimum, they could send the dictators to bed without dessert while all the other leaders get to stay up, eat Hostess Twinkies and watch a rerun of “Leave It to Beaver.”

The moms would be very good at this. As everyone knows, mothers see all and hear all. They have absolute power. They are clairvoyant and have an institutional memory going back to Eve. And of course, they know best.

Or alternatively: Enter the no-fly zone? Are you kidding? You haven’t finished your chores yet. Go empty the garbage, sweep the floor, walk the dog, make your bed and maybe, just maybe, you can have an F-22. But only one.

And one more: What was that you said? Bomb where? Pakistan is a what? Such a dirty mouth. You march right over to the sink. I have a bar of soap with your name on it.

Mommy diplomacy — based entirely around the phrase “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Mother’s Day is a huge cultural moment, one that has occupied humanity for millennia. Ancient Greeks had a mother’s day of mythic proportions honoring their pantheon of momma goddesses. The Romans had one too: “Hilaria.” The designation has yet to make it into the Hallmark lexicon, though “Happy Hilaria” has a certain ring to it.

Historically speaking, the first official Mother’s Day was celebrated in 1910 after the “mother of Mother’s Day” — one Anna Jarvis of Grafton, W.Va. — had pestered state lawmakers and civic leaders for years about a mom-centric holiday. Things must have gone swimmingly on that first Sunday in West Virginia; every state in the union celebrated its own Mother’s Day the following year, and it was declared a federal holiday by President Wilson in 1914.

Ironically, Anna did not approve of Mother’s Day cards, admonishing the nation that commercial greetings were “a poor substitute for the letter you are too lazy to write.”

Meanwhile, the world remains obsessed by its mothers (another reason for the United Nations to seriously consider the Disapproving Mothers Behavioral Enforcement Committee). Mothers are a never-ending source of surveys, studies and assorted research that usually end up with the same conclusion: We love our mommies, and if we are lucky, our mommies love us.

Take for example, the latest estimate of how much stay-at-home moms would be worth on the job market, should their daily duties be taken into account: $134,121 a year, at least according to the research group Salary.com — up from $131,471 last year.

But everybody knows it’s really more like $134,121,000. Or $134,121,000,000.

And now that we’re on financial topics, all who arrived at Mom’s today with a potted plant, a box of Godiva and a card that cost a full $4.99 will be intrigued and reassured to know that Americans will spend $14 billion on their mommas today, according to the National Retail Federation.

And what about those mommas? According to a survey of 1,568 mothers made by IVillage, a Web site devoted to women’s concerns, 94 percent said being a mother had made them “extremely happy.” Another 96 percent said they were amazed at something their offspring did every single day, while 93 percent described motherhood as “fun.” Yes, 95 percent said it was hard work and 85 percent said mothering was stressful. Our intrepid moms soldier on even though 84 percent said they feel society does not give moms the respect they deserve.

Most telling of all, though: 98 percent agreed that being a mom was “the most important thing I’ll ever do.”

Happy Mother’s Day. And thanks, Mom.

Jennifer Harper cover media, politics and mewling children for The Washington Times’ national desk. Reach her at 202/636-3085 or jharper@ washingtontimes.com.


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