All mothers are women just as in the way all fathers are men. However, all women and men are not mothers and fathers respectively. This is despite the fact that many of the women who do not qualify to be mothers have children who or are guardians to people because of one reason or another. Such a statement leaves one wondering who a mother really is. Most dictionaries define a mother as a woman who has a relation to a child whom she has given birth to. Another part of the definition explains a mother as a one who is bring up or who has brought up another human being with affection or care. As evidently seen, these two definitions are different in their own respect. If one is in the nineteenth and the early twentieth century was asked the definition of a mother, the definition would seem different from the one conveying the definition in the twenty first century. The definition of a mother has changed over time but it does not make her less than she was in the past.
In the past, a main role of a mother was considered as that of staying at home and taking care of the family. Her family came first, which sometimes included the extended family and the friends of the family, then she came last, if she held any position at all. If the first dictionary definition was to take considered, a mother has a relationship with the child she has given birth to. In the earlier years (before the mid twentieth century), a mother was not considered a proper mother if she had less than five children. Four was considered “okay” but she could do “better”. The relationship was not only with her child, but it was with all her children. She had the responsibility of making sure that her child had other brothers and children to play with.
Today, this latter responsibility is changing. A mother is still considered a mother even when she gives birth to one child, whether she is looked at from the societal, cultural or the religious perspectives. In fact, mothers giving birth to more than two or three children today are considered as irresponsible or given other adjectives such as illiterate, primitive just to mention but a few. These adjectives describing the former definition of a mother contradicts the earlier definition of the same. Those mothers who refused to bear many children were considered as selfish and un-motherly.
When looking at the latter definition, a mother is defined as a woman who is caring and affectionate. In the past, caring meant putting the family first at all times. This meant that mothers would were the first to wake up and the last to sleep late into the night. They would cook, clean up the house, the laundry, utensils and the children. They would also ensure that the homework was done. They would also ensure that the children were also in their right behavior. In some of the cultures such as the African ones, when a child became well behaved, he belonged to the father but when he/she misbehaved, he was the mother’s child. Due to all these home and family responsibilities, women, and especially those who were mothers, did not have a chance of having a career. They were either not allowed to do so by the law, the society or their husbands. In the past, mothers were defined as good mothers when they stuck with their families through thick and thin. They were beaten, abused and given all sorts of mistreatment yet they stayed in these relationships in order to qualify as mothers.
Today, mothers are also professionals. Unlike the past, they have time to put themselves first. They get out of a relationship if it is an abusive one. They have manicures, pedicures and even go to spas. Others even go ahead and have drinks or engage in activities that would have left the people of the past with their mouths wide open. This idea of having her needs put first before she puts her family’s needs is being conveyed in the media through commercials, shows, films, just to mention but a few. This change of perception still leaves the question unanswered. Have the definitions of a mother changed? Does the modern mother still put her family first?
From a religious perspective, women, who include mothers, are encouraged to be submissive. In most cultures, the women are inferior to the men. Since these definitions of women were instilled in the women even when they were young in the past, it extends to the mothers. In the past, the society did not respect mothers who got their children outside wedlock. A mother who was given that title by an “illegitimate” child was not defined as a mother at all. Currently, the number of single mothers is quite high and these mothers are considered as good mothers. Other women have taken major roles in the life of individuals whether it is to fulfill the individuals’ physical, emotional or spiritual needs. Although these women may not have been the individuals’ birth mothers, they are still considered as mothers.
Times have changed. The mothers may not have the same definition in the past as they have it today, but it does not make them less of mothers. Today’s economic times are hard, the divorce rates are also high as women are more willing to get out of abusive relationships today than they were in the past, women can have careers thus they independent. However, these changes do not change the fact that they are still caring and affectionate. They go through some of the issues they go through because they care and are affectionate of the individuals they take care of. Those who do not get the chance to take care of their children because of one reason or another; they are still mothers because they gave birth to a child.