From the beginning of time, the concept of "mother" has been central to life itself. We live on "Mother Earth." In the Bible, Eve is credited as being the "Mother of All the Living." The Assam of Africa don't
call themselves families; they call themselves "maharis" or "motherhoods." Chinese family names are often formed (begin) with a sign that means "mother" as a way to honor mothers long past.
A mother is defined in many ways. Dictionaries generally define the word as "a woman who has borne a child; a stepmother, an adoptive mother, a mother-in-law; that which gives birth to something, is the origin or source of something, or nurtures in the manner of a mother; a woman having the responsibility and authority of a mother; an elderly woman, used as a title of affectionate respect; of, like, or like that of a mother; to look after or care for as a mother does."
Mothers and mothering is a topic everyone has experience with – either as the mother or the mothered! – and therefore has opinions about. Here are a variety of opinions for thought and discussion.
On Becoming a Mother...
Only mothers can think of the future – because they give birth to it in their children.
"You are the caretaker of the generations, you are the birth giver," the sun told the woman. "You will be the carrier of this universe."
Brule Sioux, Sun Creation Myth
Mothers hold a very special place [in the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an]... Mothers are the ones who give us life, carrying us for nine months, enduring great pain to bring us into the world. They are our first teachers, giving us the lessons and values we will carry for the rest of our lives. A mother's greatest gift to her society is a righteous son or daughter. Our prophet said, "Heaven lies at the feet of mothers."
This was an initiation, through which I experienced a profound kinship with all women throughout history who had ever gone through this ordeal and transformation. There was nothing that distinguished me from any woman who had ever given birth to a baby.
Jean Shinoda Bolen
Becoming a mother humbled my ego and stretched my soul. It awakened me to eternity. It made me know my own humanity, my own mortality, my own limits. It gave me whatever crumbs of wisdom I possess today.
Making the decision to have a child – it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. You are connected to your child and to all those who touch your lives. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.
There is nothing more thrilling in this world, I think, than having a child that is yours, and yet is mysteriously a stranger.
A baby's mother also needs a mother.
On Being a Mother...
Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; a mother's secret hope outlives them all.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
As is the Mother, so is her Daughter.
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.
Oscar Wilde (from The Importance of Being Ernest)
My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness... The memory of my mother and her teachings were, after all, the only capital I had to start life with, and on that capital I have made my way.
My mother made a brilliant impression upon my childhood life. She shone for me like the evening star – I loved her dearly.
As for mother, her very name stands for loving unselfishness and self-abnegation and in any society fit to exist, it is fraught with associations which render it holy.
My mother had a slender, small body, but a large heart – a heart so large that everybody's joys found welcome in it, and hospitable accommodation.
In all my efforts to learn to read, my mother shared fully my ambition and sympathized with me and aided me in every way she could. If I have done anything in life worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the disposition from my mother.
Booker T. Washington
One fine day... as my mother was putting the bread in the oven, I went up to her and taking her by her flour-smeared elbow I said to her, "Mama... I want to be a painter."... My mother's love for me was so great that I have worked hard to justify it.
My mother said to me, "If you become a soldier you'll be a general; if you become a monk you'll end up as the pope." Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.
It seems to me that my mother was the most splendid woman I ever knew... I have met a lot of people knocking around the world since, but I have never met a more thoroughly refined woman than my mother. If I have amounted to anything, it will be due to her.
With a mother of different mental caliber I would probably have turned out badly.
Thomas Alva Edison
To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.
Biological possibility and desire are not the same as biological need. Women have childbearing equipment. For them to choose not to use the equipment is no more blocking what is instinctive than it is for a man who, muscles or no, chooses not to be a weightlifter.
Choose to have a career early and a family late or choose, like I did, to have a family early and a career late. Plan a long life.
Janet Davison Rowley, American physician who broke ground in the field of cancer genetics
Young women, especially, have something invested in being nice people, and it's only when you have children that you realize you're not a nice person at all, but generally a selfish bully.
The ideal mother, like the ideal marriage, is a fiction.
Milton R. Sapirstein
Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.
Pearl S. Buck
Don't get so involved in the duties of your life and your children that you forget the pleasure. Remember why you had children.
No matter how old a mother is she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.
No culture on earth outside of mid-century suburban America has ever deployed one woman per child without simultaneously assigning her such major productive activities as weaving, farming, gathering, temple maintenance, and tent-building. The reason is that full-time, one-on-one child-raising is not good for women or children.
Motherhood in America is a paradox – sentimentalized and devalued at once.
Barbara Katz Rothman
The myth that men are the economic providers and women, mainly, are mothers and caregivers in the family has now been thoroughly refuted. This family pattern has never been the norm, except in a narrow middle-class segment.
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway
I looked on child-rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring it.
And the life of a working mother who lives without the constant presence and support of the father of her children is three times harder than that of any man I have ever met.
Women today often combine breadwinning and caregiving, albeit with great difficulty and strain. A postindustrial welfare state must ensure that men do the same, while redesigning institutions so as to eliminate the difficulty and strain. We might call this vision Universal Caregiver.
What the world needs is not romantic lovers who are sufficient unto themselves, but husbands and wives who live in communities, relate to other people, carry on useful work, and willingly give time and attention to their children.