Category Archives: Mothers and daughters

Guest Post: On My Definition of Motherhood

This guest post is a part of the ongoing series, “What Motherhood Means to Me”, where I seek to highlight various perspectives on motherhood.

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On My Definition of Motherhood

By: Nadirah Angail

It took me a while to sit down and actually write this. It isn’t that I didn’t want to do it—I did—but I was having trouble coming up with something concrete to write. I’ve been a mother for almost 2 years now, so I’ve got at least a little experience to draw from, but still, this is hard. I guess I’ll just have to walk you through my though process. Here goes…

Initially, when I think of motherhood, I think of having children. Simple enough, but no, that’s not what it means to me. There are tons of people that have children and are NOT mothers. Dig deeper, Nad.

Okay, so then I think about the fact that the word “motherhood” has the root word “mother,” which means we’re talking specifically about women here. That means there must be some difference between motherhood and fatherhood, but what is it? What is it that a mother does and a father doesn’t, and vice versa? No, I’m not talking about giving birth and breastfeeding (though I do think that has something to do with it). I mean beyond that, what makes a mother? Okay, Nad, you’re thinking and raising questions, but still no answers. You gotta do better than this. To the dictionary.

I clicked the trusty dictionary app and entered the words “mother” and “father.” The main definitions were pretty similar: “A woman/man in relation to a child she birthed/his natural child.” The second definitions were pretty close too, except for some small, but important, distinctions.

“Mother- a person who provides the care and affection normally associated with a female parent.”

“Father- a man who gives care or protection to someone or something.”

Both definitions mention giving or providing care, but one mentions affection while the other mentions protection. So, is that where my husband and I differ? He handles the practical aspects of parenting while I handle the relational ones?  Well, yes and no. He is very protective and I am very affectionate, but I’m also protective and he is also affectionate. Thanks a lot, dictionary. You still didn’t give me an answer. Okay fine, looks like I’m on my own with this one.

What I know for sure, without a doubt, is that I am the primary woman in my daughter’s life.  Later, she’ll be influenced by female friends, teachers and even celebs (hate to think about that part) but for now, it’s pretty much me (and her grandmother). So, as the main female in this little female’s life, I have an obligation to guide her toward certain things and away from others.

Toward self-love and away from self-loathing.

Toward critical thinking and away from blind following.

Toward embracing and acceptance and away from judgment and disregard.

Toward accepting her beauty and away from trying to fit into someone else’s.

Toward valuing inner and away from fixating on outer.

Of course her father will help with these things as well, but not in the way that I will. I will model for her how to be a woman. He will model for her how to treat one. He cannot step into my shoes and do my part, and I cannot step into his. When we have a son (God willing), he will show him how to be a man and I will show him how to treat one. So, that’s what it means to me to be a mother. It’s not so much about the cooking, cleaning, feeding and playing. It’s more about the guiding and providing an example of a confident, well-adjusted woman. Unfortunately, she will be assaulted by a barrage of messages about women and womanhood that only involve sex and superficiality. It is my job to steer her away from that.  With me pulling from the front and her dad pushing from the back, hopefully we have a pretty good chance of keeping her on the right track.

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Nadirah Angail is a Kansas City-based author and blogger. She has published two books and written many articles and blogs that speak to her interpretation of the female experience. Find more information about her at www.nadirahangail.com

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More, more, more…

I want more…

(Deep breath)

I want one more kid – specifically a little girl.

But you just had a kid. You crazy!

Yes, this is true. A few months ago, I responded to a post in my online due date club by saying that I wouldn’t want another one until at least 2011. Heck, when I was giving birth, the thought did cross my mind (multiple times) to never do it again.

But I love kids and have always wanted at least two. And I love my son. I love having a son.

But I’ve recently had this overwhelming desire for a daughter.

I look at little girl clothes and feel all verklempt. I hear about mommies-to-be expecting daughters and feel a tiny, tiny twinge of jealousy. The other day I actually got teary-eyed.

Maybe it’s postpartum hormones.

Or maybe it’s that urge to have a kid that matches you in gender because then you feel that they can truly relate to you in that way.

Don’t get me wrong, sons can relate to their mothers and daughters don’t always relate to their mothers. But, there are some things that Baby E will never truly understand from my perspective simply because he’s male (barring any future transgender issues).

Maybe I just want a daughter so I can attempt to mold her into the type of woman I want to be. That right there is a bad set-up, my friend. Chances are she’d rebel against me even harder simply because she wouldn’t want to be her mother’s clone.

Or maybe I simply want a complete set – one boy, one girl.

Le Sigh.

Whatever my inner reason, I know it’s definitely too soon for another babe. So I’ll just go stare into the bright, bright eyes of my current bundle of joy when he wakes up (hopefully not for a few hours though) and be grateful that he chose me to come through.

(Which) Mother Knows Best

I have been incredibly lucky to have my mother stay with me for four weeks to help me with Baby E. She was a much needed source of babysitting, home-cooked meals and overall mothering.

She was also the source of some new mother angst.

Do you know who the biggest critics of mothers are?

Other mothers – particularly their own.

It seems that once you become a mother you never stop being a mother – not with your own kids, not with your grandkids, not with your siblings’ kids, not with that tantruming toddler in the supermarket, etc. Whether or not we actually express that mothering urge, I’m willing  to bet that its always there.

Mothers have the tendency to want other babies mothered in the ways they would do it. I think this is because consciously or unconsciously we want to prove that we are good mothers – that no matter what, we didn’t truly eff our kids up. I’m willing to bet that feeling’s even worse when your daughter rejects your mothering advice. It’s the reason for the common response, “Well, you turned out okay…”

So, when my mother would say things like, “Make sure you do x, y, and z,” I would respond with an eye rolling, “Baby E doesn’t need x,y,z” or “Of course I’ going to do x,y, and z because I actually know what I’m doing!” It got to the point where I would get this vague feeling of irritation at any piece of her advice whether or not the advice was good. I realized that this was because I felt she didn’t think I was a good enough mother – that she didn’t trust me to make good decisions about Baby E.  Thus began my complaining.

– I’m not incompetent, you know!

– We did survive six weeks together before you got here, you know!

– I was just about to do that, you know !

– Mother! I know!

But, I know she does what she does and says what she says out of love for me and Baby E. I know she can’t help but be this way since we’ve lived so far apart for so long. After all, when I left Barbados I was only sixteen. She hasn’t really had the chance to mother the adult me very often. When we get together she tries to make up for lost time.

So, I sigh and remember that despite my irritation she is the one that realized Baby E had cradle cap when I thought it was just dry skin and that no matter what she did differently with me I’m a relatively happy and healthy adult.

Of course she’s probably just waiting for the day when I finally say to a grown up Baby E, “Well, you turned out okay…”

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