What Makes a Woman, a Mother?

I was 5 years old when I chose the names of the 20 children I planned to one day give birth to. When I told my mother this, she said, " Twenty Children? That is too many. It is not possible." I stubbornly reiterated my intent to have all those children, and she patiently reiterated her belief that 20 was too high a number. This went on for awhile until finally she said, "Suit yourself, and then smiling, but do not think I am going to baby sit!"

As it turned out, my mother died when she was barely 36 years old, and I was only 12, too young to even date. She never witnessed my first crush, nor met the man I loved and never married. I never got to bear one child let alone 20.

Yet, every Mother's Day, I celebrate myself together with the rest of my sisters, cousins, nieces and friends who are actually mothers. Why, would you ask? What gives me this right? Do I actually have a right to consider myself a mother?

Mother, is the most cherished title a woman can aspire to. A title and name that encompasses the purest of loves and sacrifices. Next to the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus, who suffered and died for all of us, a mother's sacrifice in carrying her child, enduring the agony of childbirth and then, persevering in a lifetime of endless sacrifices for the love of that child is priceless.

But, does bearing a child for nine months and giving birth to it makes you a mother? I do not think so. If it did, we would not read about newborns found in dumpsters, placed there by the hands of the same women who gave birth to them only hours earlier. We would not see the abortion rate increasing, nor child neglect or abuse at the hands of their mothers. No, it is not the bearing and the act of childbirth which makes a woman, a mother. As women, we are born with the gift of nurturing. We are different than our brothers from the start. We place more importance on feelings and relationships than our male counterparts. But we always have a choice to feed and grow those sensibilities, or squash them in pursuit of more selfish endeavors.

So, personally I think, that it is the love and sacrifice that comes after the birth, adoption or choice of a child which builds a woman into a mother. A child is precious to its mother because of that precisely. The hours of nursing, feeding, bathing, tenderly protecting, teaching, nurturing, loving and sacrificing for that child, are what mold and burnish a woman into a mother.

In the most basic terms then, it is our heart that makes a woman, a mother. A heart that aches when we see someone we love in pain. A heart that gives us courage to defend and protect someone else in a way we would probably not defend ourselves. A heart that beats faster when we embrace a child we love, whether it is our own or not. A heart that quickly chooses sacrificing any pleasure to give to others just because we love them.

Therefore, I am a mother! I am a woman with such a heart. Today I pay tribute to all mothers. Those with children and to those who, like myself, love a child who is not our own yet is as precious to us that the mere thought of losing him or her takes our breath away with fear and brings us down to our knees to plead for mercy and protection. We are blessed in that womanhood which leads us to cherish motherhood. May we all remember that motherhood is sublime and divine in nature. Our children need us. Happy Mother's Day to all of you, beautiful women!

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