A Reflection on Mother’s Day

This week across Australia, the floristry business is in full bloom, romantic partners are frantically shopping for presents, and children are going to great efforts with thoughtful, hand-crafted gifts. In case you have forgotten, Mother’s Day is on Sunday, and the pressure is on for families to plan the perfect day for the most important women in their lives.  But is the day just reserved for those who have birthed or raised children, or can we also celebrate other kinds of mothers, alongside less traditional notions of motherhood? 
 
While conventionally we understand mother in the definitional sense to mean the woman who gave birth to you, society on the whole has progressed beyond this nuclear familial dynamic alone to valuing a mother as someone who brings you up and raises you. In some cultures, it is common for extended families or even whole communities to bring up children together, within a wide support network. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. Mothers remain the most important figures in this process as the bearers of life, an understanding that is universal. Mother’s Day has been celebrated all over the globe for thousands of years, even before it was widely commercialised. The world and those within it may be rich with diversity, but humanity shares these key ideas on what it means to be a mother and feels very strongly about how significant they are. 
 
You may not have birthed or raised a child, or mothered in the traditional sense, but motherhood means more than rearing or caring for someone. Motherhood is nurturing, cultivating, and passionately providing. In the twenty-first century, forms of motherhood are seemingly endless. Plenty of people mother pets or plants, or even non-inanimate objects too. Once associated with lonely, elderly women with too many felines, women are now subverting the previously insulting crazy cat lady stereotype and adopting it with endearment to express their love for the animals. Plant-obsessed millennials proudly share snaps online of the cacti and succulents they have successfully kept alive. Booklovers make DIY cloth slips to protect the books they carry around and dust their shelves to keep their collections clean. There are countless examples of mothering things that aren’t children.
 
Whilst those who carry and care for children deserve the utmost respect, the notion of mothering is not something reserved to describe the parents and carers of offspring. Being a mother or enacting maternal practices means so much more than fulfilling a role; it comes with inevitable responsibility and unconditional love. Mothering isn’t the incessant nagging or constant embarrassment with which it is so often associated. It is the strength in how much you care, and how you show it. Motherhood can be seen in the everyday, in those who love something so deeply that they will do everything in their power to ensure its wellbeing. Everyone is driven by maternal instincts, to some degree. The more we indulge them, the richer our lives become.
 
On Mother’s Day, make sure you spoil your mum and show her how much you love her. At the same time, however, take the opportunity to acknowledge the ways you mother in your life. Perhaps you procrasti-bake for your housemates when the deadlines get too stressful or spend too much of your paycheck on cute outfits for your furry friend who has no concept of money. Be inspired by the spirit of the day because you might find you could improve on them! Maybe your ferns could use a little more love, or fertiliser.
 
Celebrate Mother’s Day with your family, but also with yourself. Pat yourself on the back or treat yourself to a cheeky champagne because your pets and plants are still alive. Non-traditional mothers and mothering deserve recognition too!

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