If moms were compensated for their hours “worked,” it would total about $100,460 per year, according to a study. (Credit: Pexels.com)

As nurturers, educators and protectors, mothers are the world’s best superheroes. The countless hats they wear while caring for those they love is an impressive balancing act. In fact, a 2019 study conducted by OnePoll/Campell Soup found that the average mother with children ages five to 18 spends an average of 97 hours per week taking care of their kids. If moms were compensated for their hours “worked,” it would total about $100,460 per year, according to the study.

What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with a playlist of artists’ heartfelt songs dedicated to their mothers (and aunts and grandmothers)? These tunes will surely spark sentimental feelings as you reflect on the special women in your own life — including the mothers who are no longer with us. As the saying goes, “a mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go,” — and these artists were clearly feeling that.

1. “On My Mama” – Victoria Monét

R&B singer Victoria Monét plays no games about the style, beauty and talent she exhibits — and she gives credit to her mama for most of it. In this upbeat song sampled from Chalie Boy’s 2009 hip-hop track “I Look Good,” Monét flaunts her swag, urban fashion sense and impressive dance moves to create a fun vibe reminiscent of the 90s and early 2000s. Monet even pays homage to Chalie Boy, who makes a cameo appearance in her music video. And of course, Monét features a jubilant “Mommy Monét,” who effortlessly struts her stuff. Even Monét’s young daughter, Hazel (who undoubtedly also gets it from her mama) makes an adorable appearance. By the end of the song, viewers know Monét isn’t lying when she says: “I put that on my own mama, on my hood, I look fly, I look good.”

2. “Dear Mama” – Tupac Shakur

As one of the greatest hip-hop legends of all time, Tupac Shakur often expressed his raw emotions about life in his music — and “Dear Mama” is no different. Released just a year before his untimely death in 1996, the tribute song recounts the turbulent relationship Shakur had with his mother, Afeni Shakur, a Black Panther Party member who was acquitted of conspiracy charges in May 1971 right before giving birth to him. Yet, the pair’s life was far from wholesome bliss, with accounts of Afeni battling drug addiction and kicking Tupac out of the house at age 17. Despite the obstacles, Tupac gives a symbolic “thank you” to his mother for doing the best that she could, like making “miracles every Thanksgiving,” he raps. Tupac even came to his own realization that “for a woman it ain’t easy trying to raise a man.” The love Tupac has for Afeni, who died in 2016, lives eternally through his lyrical love letter: “There’s no way I can pay you back, but the plan is to show you that I understand, you are appreciated.”

3. “Everywhere I Am” – Jaheim

Losing a mother can be difficult for anyone, including R&B singer Jaheim, whose mother died from spinal meningitis when he was just 17. Jaheim’s loss of his mother motivated him to start his own music career and eventually release “Everywhere I Am,” a tribute song from his 2002 album “Still Ghetto.” In the track, Jaheim expresses feelings many experience while grieving, like missing his mother’s presence and wishing that she could see his major accomplishments. These feelings, Jaheim reveals, are even more intense when dealing with the challenges of life. Yet, it’s in these turbulent moments when Jaheim says he feels his mother’s presence the most. As the song progresses, he comes to terms with her death, understanding that she is where the chorus emphasizes: “Everywhere, everywhere I am.”

4. “A Song for Mama” – Boyz II Men

While being a “mama’s boy” might have a negative connotation to some, the R&B group Boyz II Men wears it with pride in  “A Song For Mama.” In the 1997 single, the group swap their usual romantic lyrics with those that honor mothers’ qualities, such as being caring, comforting, protecting, encouraging and teaching right from wrong. Most importantly, they make it clear that “no one else can be what you have been to me / you’ll always be the girl in my life for all times” — sorry ladies. Never underestimate a son’s love for his mama.

5. “The Mother” – Brandi Carlile

No one can convey the perfectly imperfect journey of motherhood like Brandi Carlile in her 2018 music video “The Mother.” Beginning at dawn, the song follows several mothers of young children throughout their day as they change diapers, cook breakfast, breastfeed, pump milk, drop their kids off to school and go to work. And if all of that already doesn’t sound exhausting enough, the video shows the other hats moms wear when unexpected challenges arise: like when a child gets a “boo boo” or when they become discouraged after losing in a baseball game. Yet, everyone makes it safe and sound by bedtime, a testament to the love and strength mothers exhibit day in and day out. Carlile knows this all too well. In fact, the song is dedicated to her daughter: “They can keep their treasure and their ties to the machine, ’cause I am the mother of Evangeline,” she sings.

6. “Superwoman” – Alicia Keys

Mothers may not have super strength, X-ray vision or the ability to fly, but they still deserve to wear an “S” on their chest for being a hero, according to Alicia Keys. In her 2008 hit “Superwoman,” Keys, who shares a blended family of five children with her husband Swizz Beats, steps into the shoes of several women around the world: from the powerful company executive trying to balance motherhood and work, to the struggling single mother applying for welfare assistance. And while each mother experiences her own unique set of challenges, she is powerful simply because she’s doing all — and the best — that she can do in her circumstances. As Keys’ song conveys, “even when I’m a mess, I still put on a vest, with an S on my chest / oh yes, I’m a Superwoman.”

7. “Look What You’ve Done” – Drake

As a pop artist and rapper, Drake’s music catalog covers everything from sentimental downbeat tunes to lively club bangers. But his 2011 song, “Look What You’ve Done,” Drake shows more of his vulnerable side. In this track from his “Take Care,” album, which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s 200 chart, he gives a heartfelt expression of love and appreciation for two important women in his life: his mother, Sandi, and his grandmother, Evelyn. While the song reveals the tensions Drake and his mother experienced during his childhood, the love they both had for each always led them to re-uniting. Toward the end of the song, Drake even includes audio from his grandmother: “All I can say, Aubrey, is I remember the good times we had together, and the times I used to look after you,” she says. “And I still have [a] wonderful feeling about that.”

8. “Marjorie” – Taylor Swift

Grandmothers can be like second moms, and Taylor Swift’s 2020 song “Marjorie” conveys the invaluable presence of her from start to finish. The song begins with one of her grandmother’s most fundamental pieces of advice: “never be so kind, you forget to be clever” and “never be so clever, you forget to be kind.” The song then dives into Swift’s feelings of missing her grandmother — who died in 2003 — and reminisces on the sweet moments they shared. What makes this song even more sentimental are the photos of Marjorie throughout her life, which exhibit just how lively and beautiful she was. And while Swift’s grandmother is gone, not even death can come between the love they both have for each other. “What died didn’t stay dead,” she sings. “You’re alive, so alive.”

9. “Joanne” – Lady Gaga

Just like mothers and grandmothers, aunties are special too — a fact Lady Gaga reminds us of in her song “Joanne.” In addition to being Lady Gaga’s middle name, Joanne is the singer’s late aunt, who died from lupus 12 years before she was born, according to Billboard. And although Lady Gaga never had the chance to meet her aunt, she sings as if her aunt has always had a presence in her life as the singer begs her not to pass away. Gaga has made tributes to her aunt throughout her music career, including adding one of Joanne’s unpublished poems in the booklet of her 2008 debut album “The Fame.” Although Lady Gaga rebels against her aunt leaving her at the start of the song (Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?), by the song’s end, she comes to terms with reality: “Honestly, I know where you’re goin’,” she sings. “And baby, you’re just movin’ on/ And I still love you even if I can’t/ See you anymore can’t wait to see you soar.”

10. “Mama’s Song” – Carrie Underwood

In 2009’s “Mama’s Song,” Carrie Underwood sings a lyrical love letter to her mother on her wedding day — a day that is often filled with mixed emotions, especially for moms giving their daughters away. As the bride in the song’s video, Underwood understands this, and shows empathy toward her mother by giving her a photo album of all their shared memories throughout her life. She even reassures her mother that the man she’s marrying is someone who values her (“he treats your little girl like a real man should” and “he makes promises he keeps.”) Starting a new chapter, Underwood reminds her mother, is a good thing — and that a mother’s love can never be replaced. “Mama, there’s no way you’ll ever lose me,” she sings. “Giving me away is not goodbye / As you watch me walk down to my future/ I hope tears of joy are in your eyes.”

11. “Mother Like Mine” – The Band Perry

The world would be a much better place if everyone had a great mother, according to The Band Perry in their 2013 single “Mother Like Mine.” Wars wouldn’t exist because people’s mothers would raise everyone to be friends — and people would even be more carefree, per the song’s lyrics. Not only does this song show how important moms are for humanity, it also shows just how much each of the band’s members (who are all siblings) love their mom. And while the world may benefit from having a mom like theirs, the band’s lead singer Kimberly Perry makes it clear that she needs her more than anyone else. “ She’s the sky that holds the clouds/ She’s the lady of our house/ We all need her / But no one more than me.”