What is a mother?

Ha, that’s a funny question to ask, isn’t it?  A mother can be so very many things, but when it comes right down to it…a mother is only one thing.


Definition of a mother

Oxford Dictionary defines a mother as a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth.  That seems a little restricted.  We know that’s not the definition of a mother.  A mother can be the woman who raised a child during their formative years, but that’s not right either.  A mother can be a surrogate for a couple who could not conceive another way, a mother could be a woman so involved in your life that she is like a mother (even though your own mother was also there).  A mother can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

Typically, we try to define things in our world and in the process of doing so, we tend to generalize.  Sometimes we forget that just because my “mother” is my biological mother, that doesn’t mean that your mother is your biological mother; she could be your aunt or your grandmother or a complete stranger who adopted you as a child.  Often times, those of us that have our biological parents take for granted that they have always been there and that we know where (or who, as the case is) we came from.

All of this rambling…I bet you think my mother adopted me.  She didn’t.  My mother is my biological mother and the only one I’ve ever known.


What is a mother called?

Of course, every language has a word for mother.  In Ireland, you may hear a child calling for his mam, in France perhaps calling for his maman, in the United Kingdom he’ll be looking for his mum.  We call them all sorts of different things, but that kind of makes sense since there are all sorts of different mothers.

In Hebrew the word for mother is em (אם).  In Persian it’s māman.  And in Aramaic it’s a’ma (ܐܡܐ).  Even in English, we have quite a handful of things that we call our mothers; in the U.S. we commonly call her mother, mom, mommy, ma and mama…there are others, the list could go on and on.  So many different things to call just one woman.


So what is a mother?

With all of those things to call her, how can we define a mother with just one definition?  That’s just it, isn’t it?  You can’t define a mother with just one definition.  There are too many ways to define her.

A mother is someone who sacrifices innumerable things for her children.

A mother is someone who forgives.

A mother is someone who, no matter how difficult it can get, continues on for the benefit of her children.

A mother is someone who loves unconditionally.

I could keep going and going and going.  You cannot put “mother” into a box and give it a one to two sentence definition.  She is far too important and far too varied to be put into a box.


So, when it comes right down to it, a mother is only one thing…mom.  Plain and simple.

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