Our mothers determine who we become because they are not only the life givers, but the most influential person in our young lives. Before we are old enough to understand that influence, mothers give us the beginnings of our spirituality and value systems. A mother lauds accomplishment and ignores minor faults, she both teaches and shields her children from misfortune, and hides her own tears, preferring to laugh so her children can laugh with her. She is both a sharer of grief and a healer of many pains. And every mother gives of herself knowing that someday her progeny will leave her. For these reasons and more, motherhood is a sacred institution, not limited by narrow constraints. It is also not unusual to seek the guidance of a mother in a wise woman or a grandmother because each woman is taught to be a mother by her own mother, whether she chooses to have children or not. Other ways to see Mother is to find a source of motherly nurturing in the earth, which gives us so much and demands little in return.
The definition is necessarily broad because mothers of all types exist in part to put a smooth veneer on the rough edges of life for those they love. A mother never stops growing, never stops becoming more motherly. Though some may argue that a mother is a woman who gives life with her womb and nourishment with her breast, it is important to remember that a mother, any mother, is also one who gives life with her tenderness and nourishment with her love.
Image by Norman Koren photography, drawing by Howard Weingarden