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The Universal Mother

As a baby begins making its first purposeful sounds, they’re almost always “mamamamama.” That’s an easy sound to make with the human mouth. It’s as easy as opening and closing the mouth while forcing air across the vocal cords.

It is no coincidence, then, that the word for mother almost universally contains the “mah” sound. Only a handful of languages use a word with no “mah” sound. A few reverse the sound–“Ahm.”

I can picture the first primeval mother, cradling her infant in her arms, its face cherubic, its lips glistening with mother’s milk. The child looks at her and grins and says, “Mamamama.” What mother wouldn’t know, with her whole heart, that the child is speaking to her, of her, naming her? Of course he is. And when the child is distressed, hungry, uncomfortable, who does he call? “Mamamamama!” The source of his comfort, his nourishment, his security.

May is a month for mothers. Nearly every country in the world celebrates a Mother’s Day, and most celebrate it in May, which is appropriate. In the Western culture, May is a season of new life, a time for the miracles of birth and growth. It is a time for hope.

Come celebrate mothers with us as we present three original stories of mothers at different stages of life, faced with challenges that threaten to break them, mothers who face those challenges with typical resilience and determination. Because that’s what mothers do.

We wish, this challenging Mother’s Day, for greater hope for all mothers, and that all mothers can find the strength within them to be wellsprings of hope for their children, that mothers everywhere might recognize the power within them to change the world, one child at a time.

What we say of this pandemic should also apply to mothers. “We’re all in this together.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

Suzanne Vincent

Suzanne Vincent is the editor-in-chief of Flash Fiction Online. That’s what people think anyway. Actually, she’s really a pretty ordinary middle-aged woman packing a few extra pounds and a few more gray hairs than she’s comfortable with. As a writer, she leans toward the fantasy spectrum, though much of what she writes is difficult to classify. Slipstream? Isn’t that where we stick stories when we just can’t figure out where else they go? Suzanne’s first professional publication was right here at FFO, published before she joined the staff: “I Speak the Master’s Will,” — a story she’s still very proud of. While she doesn’t actually have time to blog anymore, she once did. You can still read her ancient posts on writing at The Slushpile Avalanche. Suzanne keeps a house full of kids (3), a husband (1), and pets (too many to number) in Utah, USA. Yes, she’s a Mormon. No, there isn’t another wife. Mormons haven’t actually practiced polygamy since the 1890s. Too bad. She’d love to have another woman around to wash dishes and do laundry.


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