Mama’s New Dress

“I really don’t like that dress at the store:
This old one I wear suits me fine.”
But why is that longing look in her eyes?
And why do her eyes seem to shine?

She says to herself, “I’ll buy some new shoes:
That boy of ours needs a pair.”
Something that should have been long thrown away,
His mama continues to wear.

She scrimps then and saves a few dollars more,
A month has now passed, more or less.
She sits down and counts, and finds that she has
Enough money saved for her dress.

So on shopping day she goes to the store
And tries on the one that looks nice.
Something inside her that poets call love,
Then made her look twice at the price.

“School will be coming in just a few days,
And both of the girls need new clothes.
Something about this new dress I don’t like,
It’s priced high enough, heaven knows.

I think, that instead, I’ll buy some new jeans.
The girls will both need a new pair.”
She takes one last look, and hangs up the dress;
Convinced in her heart that it’s fair.

So throughout the years, she gave and she gave,
And took for herself less and less.
But today all of the kids have gathered around,
And helped pick out mama’s new dress.

Ah, don’t she look nice, so peaceful and still,
As each of her children caress,
The one who gave to them all that she could…
Ah, don’t she look nice in her dress?


William Raymond Waterman, Sr.

To appreciate the poem “Mama’s New Dress” one must first understand the era, which is the setting for the poem. These were the late 1930’s and 1940’s. Our family lived only six miles from the nearest town and yet there was no electricity, gas nor running water. A bad land farm with clay soil that could only produce a garden and perhaps a little stunted corn. My father farmed with mules and horses using the horse drawn implements that were available at the time. Those were the days of kerosene lamps and butter churns and washboards and clothes pressed using flat irons heated on a wood stove. If you were extremely lucky a battery operated radio was shared by the family. Television had not been invented yet and children made up their own games to play. A new dress for mother was practically unheard of and yet always desired and planned for. These plans would most likely be set aside when the children’s needs became evident. In spite of the daily hardships and trials, my mother was a master at “Making do”. And she did this with an ever-present smile on her face and always with a song in her heart. It was in thinking of this woman I loved who was continually making sacrifices, that I penned “Mama’s New Dress”

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10 thoughts on “Mama’s New Dress”

  1. This is a wonderful story of a beautiful woman’s sacrifice. What a beautiful woman. Always putting her wants last to take care of her family. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It truly touched my heart.

  2. Bill,
    I did not live during the 1930-1940’s, but I can certainly appreciate, the heart of a mother. My mom was and is so ready to give and do what she could/can, for her children. I was blessed to have a mother (and father) that always made sure I had the necessities for life, but the most important thing she provided, was teaching me about the love of God. Sundays were not days to roam around and do whatever we could, but that was the Lord’s day. I am grateful for a mother that loved me and loved me enough to make sure that God was most important. Now that I am privileged to be a mom; myself, my prayer is that my boys will see a mother that loves the Lord and lives a life before them that portrays His love. Thank you, Bill, for sharing this poem! I think it is most appropriate that I take this opportunity to wish my mom a very Happy Mother’s Day, and a Happy Mother’s Day to all those mom’s around the world.

  3. Love the emotions this poem brings of recalling memories of my Mother, Grandmother and many other loving and caring women. I just love the story as it sets the poem firmly in my heart. The poem and story reminds me of “The American Girl” series.

    Thanks Bill for sharing your heart with us through your poetry.

  4. Bill, you have stirred and captured the hearts of those who read your poetry. This poem does remind me of the godly mother who sacrifices not only her wants but sometimes her needs for her children. You know that is much like Father God Who sacrificed His only Son so that HIS children would have a GOOD HOME.
    Thoughts of my Mother, Sister Grandma, come to mind as I remember her
    sacrificing for the family. When Aunt Mimi got a new dress, Mother got Mimi’s gently used one. She hardly ever went to the store to get anything
    for herself in our younger years. It’s what loving mothers did for their children when there was not a lot of money in the household budget.
    But the NEW thing Sister Grandma did get and shared with me was the Salvation of Jesus Christ. For when she became born again and fell in love wtih Jesus the Lord, she prayed and witnessed to me, and never gave up. And for that I am eternally grateful. What a heritage from the Lord.
    Thanks for pulling up PRECIOUS MEM’RIES, Bill.

  5. I love the warmth that this poem conveys – the caring outpoured. My mother too was much like yours. She sold eggs and milk to get enough money to buy a few items. From feed sacks which were of a calico type print she would design a dress for us out of newspaper print. Instead of pins to pin the pattern down she would set glasses on top of the pattern. We seemed to have all that we needed due to her sacrifices. Like the other dailylilies my Mom too thought Jesus was Lord. We would sometimes walk to church as there was only one vehicle and Mom at that time didn’t know how to drive. She taught Sunday school so we were sure to walk. She would practice her lesson on the back of the old sofa with us as her captured audience – you may know the flannelgraph stories. She would practice on us until she was satisfied her lesson was perfect for little ones. She loved to tell the old old stories. Moms so memorable! Thank you for sharing your beautiful gift of causing your Mom to be so real to each of us and touch such a deep love of Mom within each of us. Thank You!

  6. Thanks Bill for painting a beautiful picture of your mother’s virtue, love and sacrifice. It gives us thoughts and memories to reflect on for this Mother’s Day. When we stop and think about all that mother’s do and give, it is really something to thank God for.

  7. “Making do”. And she did this with an ever-present smile on her face and always with a song in her heart.”

    This is great advice and help for Mothers to remember as each day comes and goes. If we were to ask ourselves, do we always have the right attitude in our parenting? Will our children write an “epitaph” of our lives worthy of passing on to generation after generation?

  8. “A virtuous woman who can find? for her price is far above rubies.” Prov 31:10.
    The woman of Proverbs 31 must have had the right attitude in her parenting for “Her children rise up and bless her” (vs 28).
    Her sacrifices enabled her to afford a beautiful dress that she was truly admired for and complimented her positive and hopeful attitude.
    “She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come. ” (vs 25)

  9. What an awesome example Bill that your Mother role modeled for you as you were growing up. She sacrificed to give to you. In giving to her children she found joy. She trained you up to be giving. What an awesome gift to teach children to give – give of talent, give of gifts, give of time and resources.

  10. Bill, I like Rena’s point above. You have not just been given a gift/talent but you are using it. Now that is Solar Power. You were reared in the best possible sense. What better gift could a son give his Mother for Mother’s day that a gift/talent in action given to the world. Bill, you sure know how to make a Mother proud.

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