People always confuse the satellite duties of motherhood with motherhood. You know--you've heard the talks. "My mom always came to my baseball games" or "my mom made the best cookies" or articles saying a mother's work is worth $119,000 a year (and defining a mother's work as chef, chauffeur, teacher, laundress, etc.
It's true mothers do massive amounts of work for free. And they do show up and cook and do all those satellite things. They're all closely attached to the job.
But imagine if those things went away. Suppose a mother was in a car accident and suddenly paralyzed from the chin down. For a long time, and maybe forever, many of those satellite things would disappear. No picking up the floor. No cooking. No attending baseball games. No driving or laundering.
And you know what? She would still be mother.
Motherhood is not defined nor created by the work a parent does.
A mother without all of those extra things would still be a mother. She would still be invaluable and one of the strongest influences in a child's life. Her voice would still calm a child in distress-even when the child was an adult. (Did you know there are scientific studies proving that just the sound of a mother's voice--even over the phone--can relieve stress more effectively and more quickly than anything else?). Just simply the way she lived and viewed life and interacted with the people around her would define so much of her children's futures.
Motherhood is not the work we attribute to it. It's not the dishes or the laundry or even the tending to people when they are sick. Even wicked, abusive women do those things, but they aren't really mothers. Motherhood is this other, nearly indefinable thing that is not so much a thing we do as it is a thing we are. Many women become that when they have their first baby, but all women can become mothers. And many women who have children never do.
I can no more define motherhood for you than anyone else, but mothers are an amazing influence for good, for strength, for the future.
So Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. And thank you.