Friday, January 15, 2010


When asked what she is doing, an acquaintance answered she is a mother. And added: "The best thing a woman could be". I had to disagree. As a child, I always wanted to hear my mom say that I am the best thing in her life. But growing up, I started to think that my mom was so much more than just my mom: she was a professional, she was an intellectual, she was a human being whose life extended beyond her role as a mother. My mom took pride in who she was, as a human being. And I am thankful for this, because it taught me that I am first and foremost a person. That biological sex is one of the many aspects of my life, and it needs not be the one that totally defines me.

It's true that being a mother is not easy. Nor does it come naturally. Like all other things humans do, it requires learning. To master it, you need to practice and to be patient. You rely on the existing knowledge, you seek information and you adjust what you find out to fit your view of the world. If anything, one can say that being a mother - better, being a parent - is one of the toughest jobs ever, because there's so much at stake. Not to mention that it is a round the clock, year round job. And that it never really ends...

But being a mother is not "the best thing a woman could be". It may be your personal calling, but that's not a consequence of you being a woman. It is the consequence of a choice you made, a choice stemming from your worldview. Women are not one and the same, defined by their capacity to procreate. Not all women are able or want to have children. Does that mean they will never reach their potential as human beings?

We all try to make our own choices about our lives. But to say that motherhood is the best a woman could be is highly problematic. You may say that motherhood is the best thing you chose to be, because it fulfills you. In such cases, you want to convey to others that you are happy and satisfied with what you have in your life. But one size does not fit all!

Photo credits: seanmcgrath

1 comment:

cb10 said...

Really great piece - short & beautifully to the point. More and more of my friends are leaving work to stay at home and I'm hearing this sort of a statement more and more. I cringe when I hear it and often struggle w/ how to respond. I really appreciate your piece b/c it articulates so well what I've been struggling w/ and I think it's really important to have dialogues about this! Thank you!

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