What is a Mother? by Peggy Hattendorf
“Mother is the most beautiful word on the lips of mankind.” Kahlil Gibran
We define, mother or mom, as the female parent, whose responsibilities center around the physical and emotional care of a child, who may or may not be her own biological offspring. In certain circumstances, childcare commitments may be handled by the grandmother, stepmother, foster mother, godmother, or mother-in-law. All categories of “mothers” who have a hand in nurturing, teaching, and fostering the development of a child, deserve respect and admiration.
The American terms, mother, or mom, adopted from the British English names, mummy or mum, sound remarkably similar or are spelled the same, in many languages around the world.
Whether we say,
- Mother or Mom – American English
- Mummy or Mum – British English
- Mother or Mom – Canadian English or Maman – French-speaking province of Quebec
- Madre – Spanish
- La Mere – French
- Moeder – Afrikaans
- Ma – Hindi (India)
- Moeder – Dutch
- Madre or Mamma – Italian
- Mama – Romanian
- Matka – Polish
- Mor or Mamma – Norwegian
- Mum – Australian English
- Mum – New Zealand English
- Mueter – Swiss German
- Mamma – Swedish
- Mutter – German
- Me – Vietnamese
the meaning and the identity of the person referenced is the same – the female parent of a child.
The initial love and affection, devotion, and care, given by our mothers, cultivated our early introduction to life and the universe around us. It provided the initial foundation and perceptions of the world as a happy, gentle, and kind place or a world to be viewed as hostile, brutal and unkind.
Without the support, training, guidance, and discipline set by our mothers, we would not have grown into social beings, in the image of God. Mothers help prepare us with knowledge, skills, and abilities to mature and become independent. In so doing, our mothers sacrificed many of their desires and needs for our necessities and demands.
If the virtuous governing principles of life are learned by teaching and examples bestowed by our mothers, then a “world without mothers” would be:
- A world with significantly less women
- A world devoid of selflessness and unconditional love
- A world less disciplined and restrained
- A world less organized and efficient
- A world less righteous, decent, and understanding
- A world less emotional, demonstrative, and affectionate
- A world with less compassion and empathy
- A world less patient, kind, and gentle
- A world with less encouragement and motivation
- A world less balanced and controlled
- A world less polite and respectful
- A world less thoughtful, tender, and considerate
- A world less merciful and forgiving
Mothers play an indispensable role which is hard to duplicate. As infants nearly all of our physical needs are attended by our mothers. That physical care prevailed as we started to crawl and then walk, babble, and then talk, and shed our diapers when toilet trained. Our safety, protection and physical well-being remained paramount to our mothers even as we matured and entered adulthood.
For many of us, the emotional care given by our biological mothers originated before we were born. After birth, we were embraced with love and affection. That unconditional love stands as the cornerstone of the mother and child relationship. As our mothers motivated and inspired, encouraged, and supported, they provided the strength necessary for us to grow and mature. As our first instructors, they taught us about love, and hope, faith and spirituality, acceptance and tolerance, courage, and bravery, confidence, and determination, giving, and charity.
And they raised us to let us go and assume independence; all-the-while, we remain in our mothers’ hearts and souls forever. Mothers change the world with every child they raise.
Women are not handed an “instruction kit” as they assume the role of motherhood. No guidebooks, training manuals, or college courses prepare them for the most challenging, yet most fulfilling experience of their lives.
It is hard to envision a world without our best supporter, best listener, and best friend forever. Mothers are the ones who are always happy to hear from us, no matter what we are calling about, or when we are calling. They are the ones that will drive us crazy – but we know will always be there. And no matter our age, we always need our mothers. My mother has been gone for twenty-one years, but there is not a day, I do not wish I could pick up the telephone and speak with her.
Below, my grandchildren and daughter have shared their perspectives on what life would be like without mothers.
From my 16-year old granddaughter Anabella:
“I can’t imagine a world without moms, as my mom is my biggest supporter and sometimes my biggest critic. My mom has always been there to laugh at me when I fall, but to also pick me up and wipe my tears. I love my mom; she is always there to help me. She is my best friend. I can come to her with all my problems and she is always there with a witty comment and some friendship knowledge.”
From my 15-year old granddaughter Skylar:
“A world without moms would be dark and unforgiving. There would be no one to love you unconditionally, no one to bring you back up when you are sad and feeling down. You would not have your biggest cheerleader and fiercest defender by your side. You would not have that unconditional love that a mother gives to her child. And you wouldn’t have anyone who utterly understands you like your mother.”
From my 10-year old grandson Erik:
“What a world without moms? No, that cannot be, because it means everything in the world to me to have a mom. She takes care of me when I am sick.”
From my daughter Rebecca, the mother of Anabella and Erik:
“Strong women raise strong girls and you are the strongest woman I know. I can’t imagine the world without you and all the other strong wonderful moms.”
It would be a decisively different and fragmented world without the love, hugs, and the comforting touches of mothers.
In a world without moms, we would lose our navigational compass, our emotional barometer, and our positioning in the world-order. We would be set adrift in an ocean of ever-changing conditions and unknown dangers. Thankfully, we have mothers and live on a planet fondly called “Mother Nature” or “Mother Earth” from the Greco-Roman personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it, in the form of a mother.
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Contact Peggy Hattendorf