Mothering Earth

mother (n.): an extreme or ultimate example of its kind 

Maternity (1935)
‘Maternity’ (1935, José de Almada Negreiros)

I love this definition of mother (above) — e.g., ‘the mother of all solutions.’ But, there’s no doubt that the word mother refers first to a woman who has given birth to, or adopted and raised, a child.

And any woman who does not fit this definition has (at least once) been asked, ‘Don’t you want to be a mother?’ and been reminded that ‘there are some things only a mother can understand.’

We’ve come to define motherhood narrowly, only rarely expanding our definition to acknowledge a broader concept of mothere.g., Mother Earth, Mother Teresa, the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, and of course, the Wicked Stepmother.

Our strict definition of a mother is limiting – it undervalues what mothers do and who they are, and it ignores the many women who mother in different, and critically important, ways.

By our exclusive, common definition of the word, I am not a mother.

But, I am a wicked stepmother who loves her wicked stepdaughter (the good wicked, of course).

I am an aunt, enamored of her nieces and nephews (the children of family & friends).

I am a teacher who cares for, encourages, and advocates for her students.

I am a woman who honors, loves, and protects her neighbors, human and non-human.

I am a human being who strives to be a responsible ancestor.

We who take time to observe our surroundings, who love and connect with Nature, … we who work to cultivate a conscious relationship with the world we live in, … we who take seriously our responsibility to other living and non-living things, and who think and feel many layers beyond our ‘self’ … we can’t help but Mother the Earth. 

There are many ways to mother

Looking beyond our common definition of ‘mother’ …

mother (noun) ::: a woman exercising control, influence, or authority like that of a mother; a woman bearing a relation like that of a mother, as in being the origin, source, or protector; something that is an extreme or ultimate example of its kind — (syn.) ancestor

to mother (verb) ::: to care for or protect like a mother; act maternally toward – (syn.) tend, nurse, mind

Written by Jennifer Purrenhage {Editor}  /  Photo Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões {CCBY}

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