America’s “First Mom” greeted guests to her home Sunday and spun tales of what it was like to mother both her children and a newly established nation. Mary Wiseman portrayed a classic Martha Washington sitting on the porch of her Mount Vernon Estate Mansion.
Wrapped in a shaw to ward off the chill winds coming off the Potomac River as a spring storm gathered to the southwest, she enchanted Mother’s Day guests with stories of her husband, “The General,” and life on the plantation. Her aide, standing by her side, distributed lavender sachet to each guest.
“I’m very unhappy with the Gilbert Stuart portrait of The General. It makes him look like an old man. And, he’s not that at all. He dances the minuet with my granddaughter regularly,” she told a visiting couple from Ohio.
“I prefer Mr. Peale’s portrait. He is also not trying to pay off his debts by selling paintings of The General,” the young nation’s First Lady said.
Bill Fields and his wife Prudence were fascinated by “Mrs. Washington’s” recounting of events during the Revolutionary War and how the Washington’s dealt with Lord Fairfax and others. The Fields, of Marietta, Ohio, were making their fifth visit to Mount Vernon after attending a “political meeting” in the Washington area.
“We love it here. It is extremely inspiring,” Bill Fields said. “Our home is in Ohio but we also have a home in the mountains near Warm Springs, Virginia,” Prudence Fields added.
Although the weather was anything but inviting, the crowds still lined the path to the Mansion on Mother’s Day. They also wandered through the gardens and visited the various points-of-interest on the Estate.
Wiseman brings over 30 years of interpretive experience to the role of America’s first First Lady. Recently retired as Artistic Director for Character Interpretation and Manager of Women’s History at Colonial Williamsburg, Wiseman has appeared at the White House Visitors Center, Constitution Hall, and Washington’s Headquarters in Cambridge and Valley Forge.
She has now brought her authentic portrayal of Martha Washington “home” to Mount Vernon. Following, her casual visit with guests on the piazza of the Mansion, she conducted a mini seminar on the responsibilities of being “not only a mother and grandmother,” but also the Mother of Our Country on Mother’s Day 2006.