When Mother Is a Verb
A brief and unfamiliar twinge tickled my belly. The first few times, I thought I’d imagined this fluttering sensation. As the months passed, I recognized this movement was life growing inside of me. What once felt like the flapping of butterfly wings morphed to feisty kicks and waves.
I couldn’t wait to be a mother. My firstborn, Todd, arrived in early April. When I became pregnant with Zoe, I eagerly awaited that first sign of her existence.
Even as a young girl, when I imagined being an adult, it always included children. I am blessed with two healthy, empathetic, and loving kids. Todd and Zoe are my lifetime teachers, and they make me a better human being.
As I’ve grown into motherhood, mothering, and being a mom, my definition of “mother” has expanded exponentially. The word “mother” is typically used as a noun. As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about the concept of mother.
A mother is not only a person who biologically brings another human being into the world. For me, even more than a person, it is an action and intention.
Is this the beginning of a grueling grammar lesson? Heck no.
As Gloria Steinem said, “But when mother is a verb — as in to mother, to be mothered — then the best of human possibilities come into our imaginations.” She also says, “To mother depends on empathy and thoughtfulness, noticing and caring.”
Today I ask you to consider a broader concept of mothering. My mother modeled a strong work ethic and commitment to her marriage, which impacted how I choose to live. I am thankful for all I’ve learned from her.
My grandmothers gifted me with irreplaceable, impactful moments. Every family member who’s been a mother figure to me has influenced and shaped who I am.
I now realize my childhood was a kaleidoscope of interactions, inspirations, and observations. As we grow, both in age and experience, we notice nuances and angles. Our lives are a work of art with dark, light, and a spectrum of colors in between.
Many women have mothered me — they’ve influenced and taught me lessons I needed to learn. I am grateful to have been loved, supported, and nurtured by aunts, mothers-in-law, cousins, mentors, and friends. Their wisdom has enhanced and enriched my life’s journey.
And what about those of us who mother animals? I love being a mom to my fur babies, Izzy and Auggie. Mothering and to mother does not just apply to beings. We mother plants and flowers, and teachers are also mothers to many.
There are also the times we must mother ourselves. I could simplify this and refer to those of us whose mothers are no longer here physically or emotionally. But I challenge you to go deeper.
During these past two decades of motherhood, I’ve nursed the wounds within me that I didn’t know existed. I now understand that some of the jagged pieces escaped from the safe holding space of my inner kaleidoscope.
When the pieces move, that is how transformation occurs. What we view and perceive changes over time. The pieces still remain. But how they are arranged and the light they reflect has shifted.