The meaning of Mother

I’ve never really thought about the word ‘Mother’ and what it actually means. For me, it’s just one of those intrinsic words in my vocabulary, used often without consideration. So inert that I subconsciously reduce it down to a three letter abbreviation… Mum.

‘Mum, can you look after the kids?’ ‘Mum, can I use your car?’ ‘Hey mum, I’m a little short on cash this week…’

Looking it up in the dictionary, I was expecting to see some kind of cosmic explanation… the meaning so deep and powerful that golden light would shoot straight out of the page and fill me with some kind of divine revelation. But, all it said was: ‘Mother (noun) - A woman in relation to her child or children’.

I blink, blink away my confusion. Surely there’s more meaning to the word ‘Mother’ than that. I mentally pin the word onto my third eye and focus. What do I see?

I see my mum at my school carnival, stilettos sinking into the grassy ground because she rushed straight from work to see me race. I see mum sitting next to my hospital bed for hours and hours that time I had to get my appendix out. I see her on my wedding day, fussing over me and bossing everybody around because she wanted my day to be perfect. My third-eye overflows with snippets of time, each of them trying to confirm what I don’t want to accept… that perhaps the meaning of ‘Mother’ is just as simple as the dictionary says… A woman in relation to her child.

My heart is a little fluttery. Remembering is making me a little emotional and it’s all flooding in at once. Love, happiness... sadness and disappointment too. I’m feeling close to enlightenment.

In discussing the role of motherhood, English writer and philosopher, G.K Chesterton wrote: “How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

Motherhood is unfathomably all encompassing and perhaps that simple sentence in the dictionary is more complex than it seems and the meaning of ‘Mother’ is of a magnitude so infinitely gigantic that, like a supernova in the cosmos, it has no other alternative but to implode and be reduced down to one sentence.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums, Mummy, Mummas and Ma’s… whatever we call you, know this… You are beautiful. You are amazing. And we love you!