Thursday, February 11, 2010

Am I a mother?
part 3

I'd like to begin with a comment posted on Part 1 Stancie:

"Women who are pregnant with and responsible for the little life they carry - yet will not keep their baby are indeed mothers, though biological ones; but they will not be mothering the child after birth. And the woman who adopts a baby/child will become their mother when they begin mothering them and are responsible for caring for them after birth.
While I think both types are technically "mothers" with different roles and purposes - the one who raises, nurtures, teaches and loves a child is "the mother" of that child.

For someone who plays both roles (most women), I think the role and definition of "mother" takes on different meaning and responsibility once pregnancy ends and raising the child begins (mothering). So, while I think that a pregnant woman is "technically" a mother as soon as she conceives, I believe she "officially" becomes a (mothering) mother after she delivers and cares for and loves the child."

This is so right on with my attempt to explain my thoughts on becoming a mother. Whereas I distinguish between being a life source and being a mother, Stancie's distinguishing of being a mother verses the mothering that takes place when you become a parent speaks at the core to the same issue. So perhaps we can distinguish the role of a mother in two different ways: one mother as a life source, and one mother as a parent.

Where does that bring us? Can I get some feedback based on this assertion?


Marianne Elixir said...

I have been reading, and not commenting, because, ya know, we can talk in real life, and that's more fun. However, I love that you are wrestling through this process and putting the questions out there.

As an "official" mother in all senses of the word, I think it is hard to weigh in. I have been on all sides. I once did not have children, and had my own opinions on mothers and parenting. I once was simply pregnant awaiting "real" motherhood and wrestling through the same kind of questions of how to be the best kind of mother for my child. Now I am deep in the trenches of undeniable motherhood, still trying to fulfill the role thoughtfully, and trying even harder to actually BE the kind of mother I THINK I should be, for it is far harder to act on your ideals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year....and I am sure you get where I am going with this =)

I don't think I accepted my own role as "mother" until my first son was nearly 2. I wasn't resentful of it, nor did I feel like becoming a full-time, at-home mom somehow erased who I was, nor did I feel I was simplified into "a mother". However, it just seemed more like there was my husband and I, and "we have a baby". "We have a baby" seemed VERY different to me, at the time, than "I am a mom". This was because "Mom" is loaded with relationship significance. While, yes, that relationship becomes quite visible at birth (2 becomes 3), I did not feel like there was a lot more going on during the first few months than when he was in the womb.

I mean, okay, he learned to recognize my face and smell, but he had already learned to distinguish my voice from Andrew's and respond differently. In many ways I was still primarily a life-source, we were just capable of being physically separated for 2-3 hours at a time.

Then, somewhere around 6 months, I was happy to be HIS mom, but not happy to be classified as "a mom". I did not feel like "a mom", I just happened to be Soren's mom. It is hard to describe. Having two kids made the title "a mom" unavoidable. I really don't think I accepted the title until Elliot was born.

Now, "I have kids". That is very different than when Andrew and I "had a baby". Now there is serious relationship, and history that my children AND I remember and enjoy together and learn from together.

Parenthood is strange and nuanced. It is very hard to imagine until it happens. I think being conscientious about it is incredibly important. Not so much because you are going to be able to figure it out or make any permanent decisions about how you are going to parent before you are actually parenting, but because the exercise of caring and considering, and pursuing wisdom in the matter will give you the foundation to keep caring, considering, and pursuing wisdom once you are in the throes of actually being his parents.

Like the saying goes "Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable"

Keep up the good work. I can't wait to be mothers together.

skylana said...

all i know is it bugs the shit out of me when people who are pregnant say they're having their first mothers day when they are pregnant. because they have no idea what they're even talking about yet. i didn't do and people tried to do it to me (like celebrate me being a mom) and i felt SUPER awkward. i didn't read everything just this post and some of part 2.

skylana said...


meg said...

I think I would basically feel the same amount of awkward.