What does it mean to be a mother?

There are many ways to be a mother. There are nurturing mothers. Evil stepmothers. And even that “mother %#$&er” driving in front of you this morning at 20 mph in a 45 when you were late for work.

I can remember one of the first kids I had in my teaching experience that just always happened to be hanging around. He was there in the morning before school started. He was there after school until I left. He was kind of weird. He didn’t smell great. He had a fairly unstable home life and transferred in and out of the district about 3 times over the course of his high school career, but every time he was back in the district, he was back in my class. I had him first as a freshman in my Freshman English class. Then again as a sophomore in my Freshman English class. Then, finally again as a Senior in my – you guessed it – Freshman English class (he actually passed the class that time). He came back a couple of years after he had graduated and said to me, “Mrs. Kinsley, I don’t think I would have ever graduated high school if you didn’t believe in me. You were never mean to me and you always said you knew I could do it. No one else ever told me that.” Being an encourager is a quality of being a mother. Of course being a high school teacher, I have countless stories of giving kids food, helping them with their homework, listening to the heartbreaks of break ups and to the heartbreaks of parents divorcing. All of those things have to do with mothering.

Both men and women mother at different times to different people and animals throughout their lives. Volunteering, helping the elderly, helping the young, even caring for your sick spouse. All of these instances give us a chance to mother. As a society, I challenge those with kids to think about those without kids as extended mothers. If we are all really doing our part then each of us at one time or another will  be “mothers.” Maybe mothers as teachers, pet owners, care givers, food preparers, gardeners, cleaners, etc. What parent hasn’t enlisted a babysitter, teacher, or friend for help or advice? As families, communities, and a society we should nurture a spirit of acceptance and love so that when the children of today become the adults of tomorrow, they will all act with a sense of obligation and responsibility toward all children whether they are traditional parents or not.

So in the spirit of mothering, I’ll stop honking at that “mother” driving so slowly in front of me on my way to work.

What do you think? Where are the hidden mothers in your life (besides the carpool lane)?

 

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6 thoughts on “What does it mean to be a mother?

  1. WELL SAID! There are so many opportunities for men and women to be display those parenting qualities that we have. As the saying goes “It takes a village”. And while this is a historical statement- that is how it worked. When the Israelites traveled they all watched each others kids. Even Mary and Joseph didn’t look for Jesus because they assumed he was among the group. So many times I have depended on others to watch my kids for me. I have had my fair share of extended time frames with little to no help with my kids. And while some people would call it irresponsible to have as many kids as we do (even though I know plenty with more), it was still a choice we made and God blessed that. But. He also knows that we need help. I know I need help. I am not a perfect mom. I am not a supermom. I am a mom who is doing the best with our situation. So yes. I enlist the help of others to watch my kids and when I do- I assume that those people are going to “take care” of my children as a parent would. Like I know you do. (I remember you changing Alexa’s stinky diaper and you were great!) And it is a JOY to know that someone else can watch my kids and that that someone enjoys it, too. Even I find joy in watching other people’s kids. It is refreshing to be a mother to another child. I love that you are starting this journey.

  2. I am so proud of my son & daughter-in-law. We truly need more people to recognize what their part is in this great big world and they have.
    The caring for children who come from homes where there is not a lot of encouragement and respect will greatly benefit from my non- mom. Thank you for opening my mind and heart T & M ! You are a wonder addition to this crazy world and will give it so much that many people will never be able to provide in time, guidance and true concern for young old and ourgent babies . I love you both very much.

  3. I am so proud of my son & daughter-in-law. We truly need more people to recognize what their part is in this great big world and they have.
    The caring for children who come from homes where there is not a lot of encouragement and respect will greatly benefit from my non- mom. Thank you for opening my mind and heart T & M ! You are a wonder addition to this crazy world and will give it so much that many people will never be able to provide in time, guidance and true concern for young old and ourgent babies . I love you both very much.

  4. You make a great point. What about all those ” parents ” who should never have had children. They use the system to get money from the government. Hang in there. It doesn’t really matter what others think. It’s between you and your husband.

  5. Beautifully said! You are so right. There are so many instances to be a mother to other people in our lives. I always wanted a huge family (13 kids!) but physically could not handle having all those kids. But I’ve seen in my life the many, many kids from other families seek our family out for love and acceptance that they didn’t get from their “real” moms & dads.

    How great to see that you’ve already really made a difference to one child and I know there will be countless others that you touch in life.

    1. I have only witnessed your journey on facebook, but I know that you have been a mother to many more people than just your own children. What you have shared about your journey with your own mother and your daughter is inspirational! Thank you for you for supporting me!

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