Right now, in our society, I’d say, yes, being a mother is the most defining role a woman can have. Sadly. Sadly for women who won’t be mothers – and sadly for women who are mothers.
For the childless amongst us, the deep deep wound of not having a child to love is sprinkled with the salt of society not deeming us ‘valid’ because we’re not mothers. In the world’s eyes we don’t count because we have no real – important – role.
The women who write ‘mum’ in their Twitter bios; the journalists who declare a woman a mother or not in the opening sentence about her; the people who won’t quite look you in the eye and utter a pitying ‘Oh’ when they hear your story… They all know how definitive The Mother is.
And for mums? I have some friends who no matter how much they adore their children, no matter what they’d do for their children, no matter how grateful they are for their children, they feel they are now lost to their children. Their ‘Oh I’m just a mum’ shrugs aren’t false modesty — they’re cries for help from women who feel cripplingly subsumed by this title: being a mum is everything; being them, not so much.
But being them, being us, should be our defining roles. Everything we are, everything we can be and do, that’s what should define us. Isn’t this view dismissing and stifling and insulting and hurting women everywhere? Mums or not. And aren’t we – the world – missing out hugely if we don’t salute achievements – personal to global – just because they don’t have a placenta attached? ‘Yes, she cured Cancer. But…’ *lowers eyes* ‘she was only an Aunt…’