With Mother’s Day having just passed, I thought it apt to share something that has been playing on my mind for a while now. My mother is a beautiful woman, petite with dark hair and eyes that can either envelope you in her warmth from across the room or chill you to the bone. My mother is a beautiful woman, but not just on the outside, she is kind, and selfless and loves unconditionally.
My mum, was and still is, extremely talented, one minute she’ll be showing you her artwork, the next she’ll be discussing cellular biology and the next you’ll be gorging on her delicious food. She sacrificed her promising career so she could look after us kids and never thought twice about it. In a world where the virtues of motherhood are idolised, such sacrifices get taken for granted.
What is a mother if she is not warm, kind, loving and with an endless supply of good food? Society places a great deal of importance on mothers, and with it comes a great deal of connotations. Connotations that have survived centuries, and have transgressed oceans and cultures. For instance, Washington Irving who was writing in the 1700s describes a mother as “the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”
Irving isn’t saying your mother should be your truest friend, he’s saying your mother IS your truest friend. Now that’s not true. While it may be in some cases, I’m sure that millions of mothers around the world don’t fit that description. Does that make them any less of a mother?
I think the problem is that once someone becomes a mother, society ceases to see her as a woman. After nine months of hell, and several excruciating hours later, you pop a baby out thinking that you’ve done your bit, only for society to dump a whole new set of expectations on you. Somehow in the ordeal you’ve just been through, you’re expected to have become selfless, kind, compassionate and able to make cookies that rival that of Subway. Some woman do (Hi Mum!) but others don’t. There are hundreds of thousands of women who suffer from post-natal depression, and others who neglect their children, and even those who abuse them. They are all still mothers.
By making character traits like compassion and selflessness synonymous with motherhood, we fail to recognise that not all mothers are these things, and thus we take those mothers who are for granted. We fail to recognise that our mothers are living, breathing human beings who have lives of their own. And if they choose to sacrifice for their children then that’s a choice that need to be applauded and appreciated instead of being accredited to motherhood. She is herself first, a person with a multifaceted personality, she is not simply a mother, she is so much more.
Like most mothers and daughters, mum and I have had our fair share of tiffs, one of my biggest regrets though is that I don’t let her know often enough how much I value her love and guidance in my life.