Motherhood not the only aspect of a woman

"...while I feel very privileged to be a mother and extraordinarily blessed in my children, motherhood is not the sum total of who I am."

Don’t get me wrong.  I think Mother’s Day, motherhood, and mothers are terrific. Being a mother is incredibly, even profoundly, important and difficult work.  And while I feel very privileged to be a mother and extraordinarily blessed in my children, motherhood is not the sum total of who I am.

I’ve noticed a tendency around Mother’s Day for individuals (including me) to wax eloquently about the traits that we associate with mothers.   Hallmark has done its job well; flowery cards abound extolling mothers for their gentleness, kindness, compassion, and lifetime support.

One of the dangers of idealizing women as mothers is that we risk reducing women’s contribution to society to the biological function of child bearing and the sociological function of child rearing. A perception arises that motherhood is the fundamental role of a woman. Motherhood, though beautiful and rewarding, is only one aspect of being a woman.

I suspect that from an early age we quite naturally think that the primary role of a woman is to be a mother.  We literally begin life attached to our mother’s body, and in our immaturity, we think that our mother is an extension of our own self.

I’m not sure when I first came to the realization that my mother had her own identity. For a good portion of my life, I thought of my mother as springing into the world, fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus, ready for action – the action of being my mother.  It just did not enter my head that my mother was once a little girl, skipping on the street; or a teenager, breaking loose from her own parents; or a young woman with dreams and aspirations for her future.

If I were to design a Mother’s Day card, it would have two pictures: a mother in a brown coat with the caption, “a generous mother”, and a mother in a navy coat with the caption, “and a talented woman”.

My mother had two such coats.  I remember the brown coat clearly. At the same time that coat made its way into her closet, a white faux fur coat appeared in mine.  I loved my coat, and it was a sad day when I outgrew it. I wonder if my mother felt a similar sense of sadness when she said good-bye to the brown coat.  You see, while I wore my coat for one season, my mother wore her coat for years.

Perhaps my mother did feel a touch of nostalgia for the brown coat because that coat had seen a lot of mothering.  But more than likely, she was ready for a new coat; it ushered in the next phase of her life, a phase that gave her the freedom to pursue some of her own dreams.

I have never asked Mom if she minded wearing the same coat season after season, but I am confident that she would reply, “No, why would I mind?”  And in that reply, lies the lavishness of a mother’s love and the generosity of a woman who graces the world with her particular talents apart from motherhood.

Louise McEwan is a freelance religion writer with degrees in English and Theology. She has a background in education and faith formation. Her blog is Contact her at

Just Posted

Area A Director Ali Grieve (right), Village of Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette (front), and Village of Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh (left) held a congratulatory ceremony for Beaver Valley students who are part of the Class of 2021 graduates of J. L. Crowe Secondary at Beaver Creek Park on Thursday. Photo: Jim Bailey
Beaver Valley Grads of 2021

Beaver Valley mayors, RDKB Area A director celebrate their 2021 graduates with gift ceremony

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

A report shows nine West Kootenay communities are have more low-income persons than the provincial average. File photo
Study casts new light on poverty in the West Kootenay

Nine communities in region have more low-income residents than provincial average

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Most Read