Where I come from we have a saying 'heaven lies at the feet of your mother'. The implication of course is that if you want to get into heaven in the afterlife, you sure as hell better take care of your mom in this life. 'Don't be rude to your mother' my grandmother would warn us kids, ' if your mother is hurt or angry because of you, even God won't forgive you!' The idea of the vengeful mother who could quite literally damn us to hell held a morbid fascination for us. It was of course meant to scare us into obedience and we on our part would fervently pledge to be the most well behaved children ever (a pledge that would be broken 7 minutes later when we would inevitably break something in a spirited game of lava-lava).
We never really thought about those lessons though or wondered about the why of it. Now that I'm a mother and am experiencing first hand the frustrations and sacrifices that the role entails, I finally get it. I understand why the doors to heaven might lie beneath the feet of the mothers or why we would want to teach our children this lesson. Motherhood entails more hard work and sacrifice than is obvious from the outside so it makes sense that of all the people who might be expected to respect or protect the feelings of mothers, their children are the most important. There has to be some justice in the world, right?