We all know that mothers ought to be celebrated and appreciated every day, but in May we make a special occasion of it. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to pause and thank moms of all types for all the roles they play. Here are five influential mothers from the history books and what we might learn from them.
1. Marie Curie
Most people know that Marie Curie was a trailblazing scientist, a few know she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, but even fewer know she was a mother to two little girls. According to Mentalfloss, Curie courageously raised her children as a single mother after the tragic death of her husband. As a woman pursuing a career in the sciences in the early 1900’s, Curie exhibited persistence, hard work and independence. Following her mother’s excellent example, Marie’s child Joliot-Curie would go on to win a Nobel Prize as well.
2. Sojourner Truth
Born into a life of slavery, Sojourner Truth experienced much hardship and difficulty throughout her life. Though life as a slave wasn’t easy, she kept her head high and beat all odds to care for herself and her family. She mothered many children, and even escaped slavery with one of them--her infant daughter Sofia. She went on to be an abolitionist and women’s rights activist who inspired and encouraged progressive thinking and equality. She is an excellent example of the grit and perseverance that makes up a mother; her story is a vibrant example of how to live a mindful life and be grateful for each day. To read more about Sojourner Truth this Mother’s Day, check out the article “Historical Motherhood Series: Sojourner Truth” from The Happiest Home.
3. Nancy Edison
Nancy Edison is not a name that appears often in textbooks, but her place in history and role as an influential mother is one that changed the world. When her son experienced a significant loss of hearing early on in life, he started struggling in school. Determined to give her child the best education possible, she took his academics into her own hands. According to this article from Woman Influence Club it is largely through her home education that her child began developing an interest in the sciences. The boy, who would grow up to be the massively influential inventor known as Thomas Edison, would go on to hold over a thousand US patents. Though Nancy Edison’s name is far from as popular as her sons, her place in history is arguably just as important. She is an excellent example of the ways that mothers are so often the backbone and background driving force in the lives of their children.
4. Maya Angelou
Many know of Maya Angelou as one of America’s best writers and an outspoken civil rights activist. Her poetry is both gentle and assertive--a skill she learned, perhaps, from raising a child at the tender age of 16. Left as a single mom, Angelou greeted the challenge of motherhood with grace and love, stating quite eloquently that mothers are “our first teachers” and “our first loves.” Angelou’s work and story is an example of the strength of tenderness. To read more about her and 49 other revolutionary moms who changed the world, check out the article “49 Great Moms in History who More than Left Their Mark” by Babble.
5. Harriet Tubman
Moms are fighters, and writer Stephanie Pappas from Live Science knows it. In her article “Top 12 Warrior Moms in History” she tells the touching, courageous life stories of 12 of the world's most influential mothers, one of which is Harriet Tubman. Tubman was born into slavery but managed to escape. Instead of living happily as a free woman, she chose to risk her life and her freedom by entering back into slave territory many times in order to escort other slaves to freedom. Her example shows selflessness, bravery, and strength. Though Tubman wasn’t a mother yet during her time as an underground railroad conductor, she was a leader and mother-figure to many. Eventually, her and her husband adopted a girl named Gertie, to whom she was an excellent mother and outstanding example of fearlessness and strength.
Mothers are people of endless titles: teacher, top chef, coach, best friend, medical expert, ATM, and even best friend. Performing duties of all types, they’re nothing short of super heroes. This Mother’s Day, be sure to thank the moms around you, and ask yourself what you can learn from them.