speech: defining mother

Who here is a mother?

According to Mr. Webster here…

you are

a female parent.

How many people here have or know a mother?

Mr. Webster has a couple more definitions that we can play with.


a woman of authority… mother… source, origin.

How would you define “mother” succinctly to juice up a pocket dictionary?

I was amused by Mr. Websters definition of parent; one who begets or brings forth offspring.  I like “brings forth offspring.”  It sounds like you’re growing a garden.  But begets?  Begets sounds like a funny word.  Mr. Websters says to beget is to become the father of.

Become the father…

Well, Mom did that every time Dad set off for work or set off to sea.  She definitely shined her begetting badge when she was be-giving me a lecture.

Let me give you the juice on my source, my female parent, my woman authority who held god-like mystical status during my childhood and maintains angel status now and through-out.

My mother grew up without toys; without store bought toys.  Her siblings built kites and made cars out of cans.  They also played with whatever amusement a leaf, nut or rubberband could lend.  It wasn’t because they couldn’t afford toys.  It was her family that gave loans to relatives and neighbors to grow their farms and businesses.  If there was a family in town that could have toys; it was her family.

Her family just never valued toys or playing.  Her primary role as a child was to study and become a grown up.  Despite never having toys  and a childhood that many of us take for granted, Mom valued playfulness.  Like a jewel to be kept safe, she put it away.  Her playfulness that she had put aside now pays off in family game nights, on-line scrabble games, facebook hellos with smiley faces, and it wouldn’t be frowned upon to see a little wind up toy like this march across the dinner table.

My mother did not grow up with toys.  My mother also did not grow up with hugs.  Not only was sentiment not encouraged, communication was also limited to daughters talking to the mother and sons only with the father.  If her father had something to discuss with my mom, his message was given via her mother.  Back talking was also forbidden.  She was not allowed to disagree with her parents.  She was to only listen and take responsibility.

You would think this life of hers was stifling.  Not for my mother.

It was house rules; respect rules that she honored.  Outside of her home at school and church, my mom took on leadership roles where she enjoyed speaking out and taking a stand.  And she learned that there were kind ways to take on the most uncomfortable situations.  Her stories of speaking her mind are my favorites.  She challenged her professors, the nuns at church then as a teacher, her students and their parents.  My mom can shoot you down clean like a sniper and you would like and appreciate it.

My favorite stories center around my mom and dad, of course.

There was a time in their young marriage when my dad got upset at my mother talking on the phone.  He was also dealing with feelings of jealously that I hear is common in men during the beginning years of being married.  My dad took all the phones out and away from the house.  He wanted to make my mom be a certain way but she stood up for herself and reminded him that he chose to marry her.  Changing her name didn’t mean that she no longer existed.  She said it in such as way that he got it.  He understood her, she got the phones back… and new wall to wall carpeting as well.

Not growing up with toys, hugs and the right to disagree did not make mother sullen, dull, boring, or angry or reckless.

It made her clever….. to allow her playfulness for another day, to enjoy hugs finally from her children – she would come home from work asking out loud,

“Where are my kids?  Where are my hugs?”

and to create her own spaces to be fully expressive.  She hugs my grandmother now.  New house rules; my mom’s rules.

I can tell you about the honors my mom has received from her life as a student, an educator, an employee, a church leader and community volunteer, but I wanted to share rather what makes my mom honorable.

How would I define mother?

A female parent… yes.

A woman of authority… yes.

My source and origin… yes.

I would define mother as: woman who defines herself and gives life.



~ by jnetsworld on July 7, 2010.


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