Nearly every nation on earth designates one day of the year as Mother’s Day, but a mother’s influence continues every day from the moment her newborn gazes up into her eyes. “The mother’s image,” observed David O. McKay, “is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child’s mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness the first assurance that there is love in the world.” In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Maternal love is the first tangible bond any human being knows. It is a tie at once physical, emotional, psychological, and mystical…. It is a love that risks all, bears all, braves all,” by one “who gives of her heart and soul and self for the good and the happiness of her children.”
And in this selfless love is the hope of the world. Mary Ball Washington could have not suspected how she was shaping the world as she shaped her son George, who would say, “All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” Nancy Hanks Lincoln could not have known the influence she would have through her son Abe, who would reminisce, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” Nor could Nancy Elliott Edison have foreseen the gift she was giving to mankind in nurturing her son Tom, who would explain, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”
“Mothers,” declared UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, “play a critical role in the family, which is a powerful force for social cohesion and integration. The mother-child relationship is vital for the healthy development of children.” George W.E. Russell went so far as to say, “Everything depends on the mother,” while George Elliot wrote, “Mighty is the force of motherhood!” So mighty that, as Archbishop Bernardito Auza stated, “Humanity owes its survival to the choice women make not just to welcome children, but raise them to be virtuous and authentically human,” for “while history books sing the victories of valiant emperors and warriors, all of civilization… owes an unpayable debt of gratitude to the less chronicled or even unknown contributions of women that have shaped civilizations, like the silent but constant flow of deep waters that shape rivers.”
The Archbishop also offered a warning: “Our future is already mirrored in how we, as individuals and as a society, support mothers to raise strong and healthy families.” It is a sobering call to action in light of the widespread devaluing of motherhood so prevalent in social media and in the incessant campaign in the United Nations where mothers are urged, regardless of economic necessity, to enter the workforce, while the treaty-monitoring CEDAW Committee denounces nations for promoting motherhood—criticizing, for example, Belarus for “the reintroduction of such symbols as a Mothers’ Day and a Mothers’ Award… as encouraging women’s traditional roles”; Ireland for its “emphasis on the role of women as mothers and caregivers”; Georgia for “overemphasiz[ing] the role of women as mothers”; and the Czech Republic for “over-protective measures for pregnancy and motherhood.”
It is a stunning departure from the foundational principle memorialized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.” Uniting and equipping leaders to provide that special care and assistance is a top priority in our work at the International Organization of the Family, including our World Congress of Families events, our acclaimed international journal, our work with United Nations delegates and ambassadors, and our Worldwide Motherhood Initiative offering a powerful film titled The Power of Mothers: Their Influence on the World. Featuring interviews with experts such as Janice Crouse, Julie Beck, Christine Vollmer and others, it demonstrates that, as summarized by its producer, Shelly Locke, “Mothers are the most powerful influence for good on the earth today. Within their hands lies the very future of the world! Mothers of the world deserve our greatest respect, our protection, and our care.” As we honor the world’s mothers on this Mother’s Day, we urge that they be no less remembered and cherished throughout the rest of the year, for every day is Mother’s Day.