A mother is the pillar on which the foundations of ‘you’ are built. Your first human connection. Your first love, teacher, friend, protector. The person who values you above all others.
Language often fails us. The words we use to describe mums are easily bent to the negative. Take ‘stay at home mum’, for example. The words ‘stay’ and ‘home’ imply limitation, lack of progress, staying put whilst others are moving forward, being at home whilst others are out having new experiences. These words do not encompass, as none can, the extremes of emotion and experience that all mothers encounter, from hair-tearing frustration to soul-singing, life-affirming joy.
Mum blogs have helped to cast a frank light over the highs and lows of motherhood. A tribe of women far funnier and more articulate than myself have taken to the blogosphere, battering raw emotion into their keyboards and enlightening the world as to what it really takes to be a mum on call 24/7, some bagging themselves a well-deserved publishing deal to boot. The readership for mum blogs and books is, however, made up largely of other mums, sighing with relief that they aren’t alone in finding this gig really bloody difficult, and taking comfort that there is a collective of strong, capable, confident yet fallible human women out there who are getting on with it and flying the ‘mum’ flag.
…being a good mother should be recognised as something to be proud of; it is never ‘less than’.
Women (and of course men, but that’s for another post) try to satisfy their babies, partners, society and themselves (in that order, and not always the latter), and manage this to varying degrees each day. We often tirelessly work to perfect a dual identity of professional aficionado and keeper of domestic bliss, worrying that falling off either treadmill will render us unequal, incapable, undeserving. But it’s the words that are inadequate. We are not. One word can never define an individual. We have many names, and are different things to different people; but ‘mum’ should be spoken with no less pride than any other.
I suppose what I’m trying to say, in a waffling round-about way, is that being a good mother should be recognised as something to be proud of; it is never ‘less than’. And that the mum box should, in fact, be regarded as the most colourful and prestigious of all the boxes.
I remember as a child laying tummy-down on the summer grass and feeling as though the earth was holding me. That is what we are to our babies. The safe, warm, certain earth. And whilst that isn’t all that we are, there is surely no greater, more important thing to be.
Cathy Oliver is a 30-year-old first time mum to Alice. She writes over at Mummy Woman. Head to Instagram to follow their journey in pictures, and don’t forget to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.