President Woodrow Wilson was a mama’s boy — and it’s because of him that we celebrate Mother’s Day when we do. One hundred years ago, in 1914, Wilson issued a presidential proclamation that made the second Sunday in May the day that our nation observes Mother’s Day, “a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”
It’s a genius idea — more so, even, than the League of Nations. And it’s in the spirit of this day that we asked a few famous people to share stories about their mothers.
“When I was growing up, my mother would open our home to relatives who were down on their luck or open her kitchen to anyone who needed a meal. From that I learned to be tolerant and generous — generous with both my kindness and my time.
“She always advised me to put the needs of others above my own when the situation called for it. By doing so, I could help improve their lives. And most importantly, she taught me to do it from the heart.”
Nelson raised awareness about kidney disease and organ donation in 2011 when she publicly shared her story of donating her kidney to her mother.
“My mother was a strong believer, and always has been, in following your instincts. My father was more risk-averse. He was like, ‘Let’s consider the pros and cons of this.’ But she was like, ‘What does your gut tell you?’ And that approach has almost always served me well in life, whether it had to do with relationships or where to go to college or whether to leave a career in law to become a writer.
“When I wanted to leave the law and go write, it didn’t work out for me immediately, because my first book wasn’t published. But she said, ‘Do it again. You can do this. Write another book. If this is what you believe you’re supposed to do, trust your gut.’ Best advice I’ve ever gotten.”
Giffin’s next book, The One & Only (Ballantine), comes out May 20.
“My mother’s name was Martha, but everyone knew her as ‘Mop.’ She was a gregarious lady but held to the belief that two subjects of conversation are taboo: one’s money, and why one had to go to the hospital. She also believed there are two emotions one should never be pressed to justify: sadness and fear. Is it any wonder that I adored her?”
Brown’s next novel, Mean Streak (Grand Central Publishing), comes out Aug. 19.
“The best advice my mother ever gave me was to never be reliant on a man for money but to make my own so that I could be both financially and emotionally independent.”
McLachlan’s new album, Shine On, was released Tuesday.
“The greatest lesson I learned from my mom came at a tremendous price: her life. My mom died by suicide when I was 20 years old. She had struggled through college and medical school as a single parent and then died when, according to the outside world, she finally had ‘arrived.’
“I learned from Mom that happiness is truly an inside job. Wherever I go in life, I take that with me. She left me with a joy big enough to house my sorrows and a freedom from needing the external stuff to make me happy.”
D’Arabian is a recurring judge on Guy’s Grocery Games, which begins Season 2 at 7 p.m. Sunday on Food Network.
“My mom used to read to me all the time when I was a kid. I think her doing that made me not just like reading, but it made me obsessed with reading. Even to this day, when I walk into a bookstore, I feel slightly anxious, because there are so many books and I know I can’t read them all. I feel overwhelmed in a bookstore and I end up buying a ton of books. Because, ‘I have to have it, I have to have it.’ ”
“There was a quotation that my mom always stressed: ‘Today should be better than yesterday.’ I live by that quote because I feel like, yes, today should be better than the day before. I went through some times in my life that were very difficult and I went through struggles. At one point, my family and I were homeless. I use that quote in the gym a lot. It’s the motivation that keeps me going.”
“The best advice my mom ever gave me was never spoken. She taught me by example. Always there for me, always supportive of my crazy dreams, always one to dance and sing and laugh every chance she got. She taught me how to live life to the fullest by showing me how to do it and not by telling me.”
Rancic’s Mother’s Day special, Beyond Candid With Giuliana: Lisa Vanderpump, airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on E!
“What I remember most about the first play I did when I was 8 years old is my mother, who was not your typical stage mother. She was not thrilled about me acting. She didn’t think I would keep doing it, that it was just something to do in my summers instead of going to camp.
“But she watched the performance and then said afterwards, ‘Honey, you did great. I’m really proud of you. I just want you to remember one thing: Even when you’re not talking, you’re still in the play.’ I would say that’s probably the most valuable advice I’ve ever received as far as acting is concerned.”
Plimpton played a TV mom (and grandmother) for four seasons on Raising Hope.
“My mother was a registered nurse before she married my father. She didn’t work when she raised us. But throughout my entire childhood, she was like the unofficial 911 emergency call system for all our friends and family members. When anything happened to anybody, whether it was illness or a family problem or a reason to need help, family and friends called my mother first.
“She believed that doing good was its own reward, so people would come to her. Some of it was medical advice, some was life advice. Not that she was a saint in any sense of the word. But she had a high spirit and a great sense of humor — and she lived a long life of doing generous and good things for others.
“It’s what led to my long career in public service and to all of the advocacy that I do now, which is all work that’s done pro bono. It all comes from the example that she set for me.”
Fairstein’s next novel, Terminal City (Dutton), comes out June 17.
“My mother set a wonderful example, but she didn’t exactly dole out advice on a regular basis. So when Mama gave me a piece of wisdom, I paid attention. One big lesson she taught me was, ‘You got yourself into this mess, you can get yourself out of it.’
“For instance, I know a lot of parents routinely do their kids’ homework for them — or at the very least bail them out in an emergency situation. That was not happening in the Rasberry household. I distinctly remember sitting up many a morning until 4 a.m. because some project or report was due and I had once again procrastinated until the very last minute. Connie Rasberry was snug as a bug in her bed while I paid the price for the choices I had made. It was a valuable life lesson.
“Another piece of advice she gave me: ‘You can fall in love with a rich man just as easily as you can a poor one.’ I wish I’d paid more attention to that one!”
“I was blessed with a mother who taught me to taste the good stuff now and to realize how fortunate and how wonderful things are this minute, because enough minutes in life are not going to be wonderful. You have to save up all the good ones to make it balance out!”