What it Means To Be a Mother

Mother and daughter smiling |What it Means to be a Mother

“Mister sir echo how do you do? HELLO, hello. HELLO, hello.
Mister sir echo how do you do? HELLO, hello, HELLO.”

This is the song my mother would sing to me as she rocked me in her arms to comfort me when something bad had happened in my little world.

I spend almost every day of my life helping women become mothers. For everyone in my office, it has not been an easy road. Sometimes the conversation turns to a question about what it means to be a mother.

For many it means using their genetic material to form another human being. To others it means the experience of having a baby inside of them that they can nurture and bond with. If they can’t have that, then their dream of having a family seems to evaporate.

For over 25 years, I have experienced with my patients, the heartache of the journey and ultimate joy at the end of their struggle with infertility. As a result, I have come to see motherhood as something infinitely more profound. When I am seeing my patients for their last obstetrical ultrasound before turning them over to their OB-GYN, it is common for them to comment that they are feeling very tired. With a twinkle in my eye I reply, “Don’t worry, that only lasts for about 40 years.” To me, motherhood is not a condition or an outcome. It is a sacred calling.

It is caring for someone other than yourself more than you could ever believe possible. It is feeling immense pride for seemingly small accomplishments. It is worrying. It is feeling compassion for every small pain and wishing you could suffer instead of your child. It is willingly sacrificing more than you ever thought you could sacrifice. It is finding true joy in the life you have nurtured.

Last Saturday our youngest child came home from babysitting. We enthusiastically listened as she described her evening caring for two little girls. They were having trouble going to sleep. After several requested songs, in desperation, my daughter sang, “Sunshine, on my shoulder’s makes me happy,” by John Denver – the song my wife would sing to her.

Tears came to my wife’s eyes. That is what it means to be a mother.