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How Caregiving Can Help Us Rethink the Meaning of Motherhood

OlderWoman_pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3768117Photo credit Andrea Piacquadio

To me, the definition of a mother is someone who nurtures. Yes, carrying a child in your womb for months and then giving birth creates a lifelong bond, but I feel it’s the unconditional support of a child throughout life that defines this role. Many children face significant challenges as they grow up—some more than others. Even so, when a child knows there is someone they can always count on during difficult times and share wonderful times with, their development and quality of life are significantly enhanced. This nurturing presence is symbolized by motherhood, but it does not necessarily need to come from one’s biological mother to be meaningful. Each family is unique, and true mothering can be provided by anyone—a birth mother, an adoptive mother, a stepmother, a grandmother, an aunt, or even a father.

Learning to appreciate those who mothered us during our formative years and finding forgiveness in our hearts for mothers who faltered in their duties, either occasionally or chronically, can help us come to terms with these influential relationships. This is especially important for adult children who are currently providing care for their mothers or anticipate assuming this role in the near future.

Forgiving Those Who Weren’t Nurturing Mothers:

Growing up with a mother who was absent, neglectful or abusive has a lasting effect on a child. The cause of this mistreatment may stem from mental illness, emotional scars from Mom’s own childhood or a self-centeredness that is intrinsic to her personality. If the children of these women are fortunate, they may have found a more appropriate maternal figure in another family member, a favorite teacher or even the mother of a friend. Those who were unable to find a caring person to fill this role may continue struggling to understand what it is like to love and be loved in return. If your relationship with your mother is strained or nonexistent...

Continue reading on Agingcare for discussion about mothers and motherhood - the good and not so good:

Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.” ...Craig William Dayton, Film Composer

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