As the nation marks another official Mother’s Day, there are many who took time to celebrate this commercial holiday. While Mother’s Day has only been a formally recognized holiday since 1914, obviously, mothers have been around since the beginning of time. But outside of the biological facts, what makes a mother a mom?
Motherhood is Much More Than Biology
This time of year, much is written about the joys, trials and triumphs of mothers. Mothers can both make and break the lives of the children in our lives. But simply giving birth isn’t enough to make a woman a mother. Yes, the act of nurturing a child within her body and giving birth, makes one a biological mother. But there is so much more that defines motherhood. The gift of self-sacrificing love is stronger and deeper than biology.
Motherhood is a Physical Sacrifice
From the moment a woman knows she is pregnant, she changes her mindset. The unborn child takes priority in the decisions she makes every day. Expectant moms ensure that they make the choices that will lead to a healthy and happy baby. Though not every woman is able to bring her child into ideal surroundings, most are able to make sure her child’s needs are met. Mothers are generally the personification of sacrifice.
As the child grows, the demands on a woman change in type, but not in nature. The sleep schedules of newborns become more predictable, but that doesn’t mean a mother gets more rest. She simply exchanges one set of worries for another. Babies learn to eat solid foods but might develop eating disorders later. Learning to walk leads to going places that could lead to trouble. Mothers teach the skills needed to survive in the world. But moms teach their children how to care about the world.
Mothers Provide Life: Moms Love
The act of giving birth and even providing all of the essentials does not make one a mother. There are plenty of women who have raised children, but didn’t bleed for them. A mother feeds a child; a mom teaches the child how to cook. Simply providing for the physical needs may meet the definition of a mother, but laying a strong foundation of love is what a mom gives. It’s true that most children will survive just fine with a mother raising them. But children will only truly thrive when they have a mom.
So, does a woman have to give birth to be a mom? In a word, no. Yes, only a biological female parent can be referred to as a mother, but the ability to love and teach love is the definition of a mom. I was raised by a mother. She provided all of my basic needs and made sure I went to school and learned to take care of a home. But, in all honesty, she was unable to be a mom to me. She just could not show love, affection or share her time freely with me. I don’t blame her for these shortcomings; its just how she was made. But I did have a mom surrogate in my life.
Moms Sacrifice Self
A mom can be any woman who chooses to give above and beyond for a younger person in her life. For me, she was my 10th grade English teacher. Though she was only in my life for a brief time, she showed me how to pour yourself into others. She believed in what she taught and she believed in her students. Maybe not every student saw her that way, but I did. And the lessons she taught me about compassion and empathy helped me to understand that its okay to be myself, no matter how different I may be.
While the ideal scenario is that our mothers will be our moms, that doesn’t always work out. But all it takes is a brief encounter with a truly loving woman to help us grasp what self-sacrificing love looks like. If we are truly lucky, there will be more than one of these beautiful women in our lives. So, even though we may not have the picture perfect family, we will make it through life with the love and guidance of a mom. Indeed, we all carry the seeds of potential within us, all we need is a brief exposure to the warmth of love and we will blossom.
Moms Are All Around Us
If we are take the time to look, we can find the love of a mom all around us. We may encounter it in a kindly, co-worker, a friendly neighbor and even in the eyes and smiles of that homeless woman bus stop. If we take the time to notice, love shines forth from the eyes of those who have a caring heart. For us woman, whether we are biological mothers or not, we can play the role of a mom in the lives of those around us. As a people, we are so much better when we know that someone believes in us. That is what a mom does, she believes in us. We may think that’s not important anymore, but we all need someone who makes us feel like we matter.
What Makes a Mother a Mom
So, while having a child is the criteria for being a mother, it takes more that that to be a mom. Moms are patient, understanding, compassionate and forgiving. They are also strong enough to tell us when we are wrong and when we have fallen short. But, taking the time to explain how to re-start is the epitome of being a mom. Motherhood in its fullness is the most thankless and yet rewarding experience in a woman’s life. I would never trade a second of being a mother. But what’s more, I cherish every tear and every smile that my children have shed with me. I have fallen short more times than I can count. I have let my children down and have caused them pain that I never intended. But, through it all, they do know that they are loved and I hope they know how much they matter in the world.
So, what makes a mother a mom? I think, its the willingness to be open to the most heart-wrenching pain. It is the ability to give when you have nothing left to give. Moms can smile at a child when they are crying and hurting on the inside. It isn’t being perfect or providing a perfect life. Being a mom is giving that child or young person the gift of seeing themselves as a person worthy of belief and love.