I don’t know too much about motherhood, but I do know this: giving birth to a child does not make one a mother. There are plenty of women who manage to give birth but have no business rearing children: women like Fred’s mother; women like Ann’s mother; women like the one who gave birth to the Bi-Lo Center baby; the thousands of women whose children suffer the lifelong consequences of abuse at the hands of their “mothers.”
Of course, there are women who take to motherhood naturally, women who were born to do it. There are also women who rise to the challenge when it presents itself, accepting responsibility for the lives they create and tackling the enormous task with strength.
There are women who figure it out as they go along, who make mistakes as they stumble through, but who are good at what they do because they always make their children’s best interests a priority. They aren’t afraid to ask for help, to do their research, to admit they don’t have all the answers; they understand that perfection is unattainable. As Jill Churchill said, “There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.”
There are so many different things that make good mothers good that defining “mother” is difficult, but I definitely, based on my experience, agree with Oprah Winfrey, who once said, “Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” In fact, there are many women who play the role of mother–in a variety of different ways–to children who are not their own biologically. There are foster mothers, adoptive mothers, grandmothers, mothers-in-law.
Recently, I acquired a non-biological mother– a mother-in-law. Today, we celebrated her birthday. Mothers-in-law get a bad rap; people are always complaining about them. So I guess I got lucky because I think mine likes me–and she’s good at what she does. She’s kind, thoughtful, and funny. And I like her too.
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate shopping. Hate. it. My MIL, on the other hand, seems to enjoy it. And she’s good at it. A bargain hunter, the woman finds the most amazing things at the best prices–something I cannot do, I think, because I lack the patience.
I haven’t had to go shopping for clothes since I got married. Because my MIL started just showing up with clothes she found in my size that she thought I’d like. This could have been really awkward except for the fact that she actually has good taste and clearly puts thought into what she chooses, selecting items that look like me.
It’s only one of a million ways in which she is a good mother(-in-law). I told you I got lucky.
She’s not blood-related but that’s ok–most of my family is not. I feel fortunate to have this new mother in my life.