Mothers Day Tribute
As Mother's Day approaches I would like to give a different perspective to ponder.
Being a parent and a mother are not necessarily the same. Parenting is a gender-neutral term and refers more to the management function (hearing kids read, being a cheerleader, confidante and behaviour management expert) while mothering, like fathering, is something more instinctive, more basic and more close to the bone.
Parenting can be taught but mothering is something to grow into. Mothering (and fathering) is generative in that it develops when you come into contact with children.
Mothering, like fathering, means different things to different people. Mothering is traditionally linked with nurturance and protection of the individual, while fathering is more usually linked with challenge for the individual (dads can be hard on some of their kids!!) and protection of the group or family. It has long been my contention that a child needs to be both mothered and fathered for healthy development to occur. That is, he or she needs to experience a mixture of nurturance and challenge. Sole parents need to be both mother and father to a child, which is hard work but millions of sole parents do it.
The instinctive nature of mothering comes to the fore many times throughout a child's life, particularly when it is needed most. Most mothers generally instinctively know what a child needs at any given point in time yet many women don't listen to, let alone trust, their instincts.
Mothers can be rejected temporarily by their children. For instance, young boys can sometimes turn away from their mothers in early primary school. A five or six year old boy may let his mum know that 'being a big boy' means that you no longer kiss him goodbye outside the school gate. Or an early adolescent girl may want to spend more time with her father than with her mother because they need affirmation from the main man in their lives at that time of change. That is the instinctive nature of raising kids and the nature of mothering.
If parenting is about the headspace of raising children then mothering (and fathering) is about the heart and soul of raising kids. As a parent you may work yourself out of a job as your children move into adulthood but as a mother you are never redundant. We grow away from our parents but we never grow away from our mothers and fathers. A mother only has to look at her child in a certain way to transport them back to childhood in an instant.
It is worth remembering that the parenting maybe transient as children grow up and leave home but mothering, like fathering, is something that will never end. It is for life!