Mothers aren't always determined by biology

Mothers aren’t always determined by biology

5 11 17

The Issue: There is more to motherhood than giving birth.

Our View: Often, there are several people who play a mothering role.

In the years since Julia Ward Howe first wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870, encouraging mothers to protest the futility of the lives that were lost and the families that were torn apart as a result of the Civil War, the holiday has evolved to reflect motherhood as it exists in society today.

It takes little more than a glance down the greeting card isle to raise one’s awareness that Mother’s Day isn’t as clearly defined as the holiday’s name may indicate. There are cards recognizing, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and friends as people who fulfill a mother’s role. It’s often the case that the one who provided the most care, love, nurture and guidance, isn’t necessarily the same person who labored to deliver us.

In the most basic, literal sense, each of us has only one mother. She’s the one who carried us for nine months through birth. Ideally, she is the one who loved and raised us into adulthood.  She made sure we were safe and warm and loved.

It’s not unusual, however, that other people filled those needs when the one who delivered us either wasn’t around or simply needed some help. The woman/women filling in those gaps could be grandmothers, older siblings, aunts, step-mothers, foster mothers and, certainly, adoptive mothers. Sometime the one providing all that nurturing isn’t even female, but that’s a notion more suited for Father’s Day.

This commentary isn’t attempting to judge women who, for whatever reason, need help rearing their children, it’s an effort to credit people who step up and do what is needed for children they never birthed. It goes without saying, the people who step up to be a positive presence in the lives of these children don’t do it for credit, which is just as well because they rarely get any. These people do it because it is within their character to do so. Their heart compels them.

Usually, family members are the ones who love and nurture the children who need it, but not always. There are countless educators, counselors, law enforcement officers, along with friends and neighbors who are deserving of appreciation. It’s nice to see there is some effort being made to accommodate those who wish to recognize the people who helped raise them regardless of birthright.

Aside from all the ways in which Mother’s Day has been commercialized, there isn’t a mother or mother figure out there who wouldn’t take a few heartfelt words of appreciation from those they’ve cared for over a pricey dinner, bouquet of flowers or a greeting card.

Mother’s Day isn’t an easy day for anyone. Sometime those who are most involved in the wellbeing of a child have their efforts unnoticed. There are also those who don’t have a surviving mother or mother figure. Mother’s Day can be a lonely time for them as well.

There is a lot that goes into raising a child. While it’s easy to think that a child having multiple mother figures reflects on single motherhood and a sign of the times, that isn’t necessarily the case. Our history is filled with examples of extended families living under one roof or in a single neighborhood or community. If a child is lucky, there are many people — mother figures, father figures, or otherwise — looking out for their health, safety and wellbeing. It is our belief that the more caring, responsible adults a child has looking out for him, the better off that child is.

This Mother’s Day, please don’t hesitate to show appreciation to all the “mothers” who had a hand in raising you. Even if it’s just a phone call and a few kind words, no effort will be unappreciated.