What does it mean to be a Mother?

Mother’s Day Mantra

Here we are again coming up on that second Sunday in May that honors Mothers in America. In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”. She specifically noted that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” In my mind, this is a much needed distinction.

I believe that the word “Mother” should always be capitalized. It also should be coined a verb rather than a noun. To actually be one, or act in that capacity, requires a lot of doing, a lot of sacrificing, and a lot of nurturing and caring; not to mention meeting a child’s basic needs. Biologically birthing someone doesn’t make you a mom. While there are no perfect parents, here are some action words that I think should be mandatory in defining the word:

Mother (muth’er), v.  1. Any action of unconditionally loving a child and taking  “good” care of his/her emotional and physical needs. To the best of her ability, providing care, concern, support and a soft place to fall for her child. Putting a child’s best interests first whenever possible. Worrying about and loving said child for the rest of his natural life …. This is a title that must be earned, not just given.

This sounds like a more correct definition to me. Unfortunately, not everyone has or have such people in their lives.  As I stated before, it is not enough to simply give birth to a child to earn that distinction. You must do the heavy lifting of actually raising that child. Whether you are an adopted Mom, a foster Mom, or a step-Mom doing her best to implement the aforementioned acts, you deserve to be recognized on this auspicious day. Although, part of the act of Mothering is expecting nothing in return, I admittedly do.

I want for my son to grow up to be a good person who has morals and values and uses good judgment. I want my son to appreciate me just a little for putting a hot meal on the table, chauffeuring him around, and washing his clothes, etc. I love it when he randomly says, “I love you Mom” without wanting anything in return. I wouldn’t mind more of that! I want my son to give me hugs and kisses of affection, although he’s not the demonstrative type. I want my son to be able to come to me when he has a problem. I want him to recognize that I did/am doing the very best I can for him.    Unfortunately, not everyone has had a good model or example to follow of how to be a good Mother.  Some of us may have been abandoned, abused physically or verbally, raised by mentally ill or drug/alcohol addicted mothers not actively seeking treatment. That’s why I propose that the word Mother be redefined in our culture. The title should have to meet some basic requirements. It is a hands-on job. A child doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Fortunately, the Center for Parenting Education provides tips, tools and suggestions for how to be a Mother to someone in healthy ways.

If you are doing it to the best of your ability and trying to meet the emotional and physical needs of any child, biological or not, then by all means, you should be celebrated or honored, even if it is only you that recognizes it.

In my definition, it takes a lot of action words to earn the title of Mother.  Setting aside one day a year to honor that dedication and commitment seems only fair.  And, in my opinion, all those who are truly giving it their best effort, deserve to be praised on the day.

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3 Responses to What does it mean to be a Mother?

  1. Annajane Gellman says:

    This is so great, you should try to get it published

  2. Judy Kroll says:

    It was in this past Sunday’s Courier Times!

  3. Larry says:

    Nice piece – makes me want to appreciate my mother a little more.
    Being a good mother or father for that matter is certainly about taking action.