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Wisdom from Polonius


Liz Smith, U.S. columnist and author
“Working mother” is a misnomer. . . . It implies that any mother without a definite career is lolling around eating bon- bons, reading novels, and watching soap opera. But the word “mother” is already a synonym for some of the hardest, most demanding work ever shouldered by any human. . . . It is one she cannot easily give up for several decades. It can be slavery, joy in work, a magnificent career. It can be failure or triumph, but it can never be insignificant or unimportant since it is one “job” affecting the outcome of another’s life.


Victoria Secunda, U.S. psychologist and author
Unlike the mother-son relationship, a daughter’s relationship with her mother is something akin to bungee diving. She can stake her claim in the outside world in what looks like total autonomy—in some cases, even “divorce” her mother in a fiery exit from the family—but there is an invisible emotional cord that snaps her back. For always there is the memory of mother, whose judgments are so completely absorbed into the daughter’s identity that she may wonder where Mom leaves off and she begins.


Honoré De Balzac
A mother, who is really a mother, is never free.


Isidor Isaac Rabi, U.S. physicist
My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: So? Did you learn anything today? But not my mother. “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference—asking good questions—made me become a scientist.


Jewish Proverb
A mother understands what a child does not say.



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