Motherhood has been a role that women have filled since the beginning of time. While it may look different from one time to another, mothers have always been the ones responsible for keeping their babies safe and healthy.
In the mid-1900s, middle-class moms were “selfless, pious, emotional, softer half of the parenting duo, happily economically dependent and bound to the home to build the character of youth, while her husband earned the daily bread.” It was the ideal, but it was tough to apply to all women due to circumstances.
Beginning around the 1970s, women in the U.S. began to take a more active role in society and in political activism, often fighting for rights that would protect their children - and their children’s future. More women became less dependent on men - and more than half of children born to women under the age of 30 were born to single mothers by 2012 (Vandenberg-Daves, Modern Motherhood, 250). Women had taken their power and their strength to do it all - even though sometimes finding balance was tough.
But throughout the years, all the way back to the 1800s, there are many mothers who have inspired greatness toward motherhood.
Sojourner Truth. She and her daughter escaped slavery in 1826. “Soon after her escape, she heard that her 5-year-old son, Peter, was illegally sold to a man in Alabama. Truth raised money for a lawyer, filed a complaint in court, and successfully got Peter out of slavery—a landmark case in which a black woman successfully sued a white man in court.”
Irena Sendler. “A Polish employee at the Warsaw Social Welfare Department who smuggled almost 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust, saving their lives.” She went on to be captured and tortured by the Nazi party but never gave up any information. Talk about a strong woman.
Candy Lightner. One of her twin girls, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver in 1980. She went on to form Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to raise awareness of the growing problem and to help pass legislation that would go on to protect many from drunk drivers.
Indira Gandhi. The first female Prime Minister of India is quoted as saying, “Education is a liberating force, and in our age it is also a democratizing force, cutting across the barriers of caste and class, smoothing out inequalities imposed by birth and other circumstances.”
Mary Kay Ash. The founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics grew her company working to give hundreds of thousands of women the opportunity to work as sales consultants in their own time - allowing them to work and still maintain their role as a mother.
The list could keep going and going.
Fast forward to today and motherhood means playing many different roles. While moms are still the nurturer, supporter, and encourager, they may find themselves playing a provider and protector, too. Even older women are finding that the role of grandma has evolved to take on a more active role in helping to raise their grandchildren. And they are all fighting to maintain their rights - and protections for their children.
Any typical week for most moms will include a long list of things like, maintaining work schedules, nurturing friendships, traveling to piano practice, showing up for the soccer game, making play dates, and all the while making sure the kids feel loved, supported, and seen. It is safe to say that life is busy and full, but it passes with the blink of an eye.
Today, moms understand the importance of having balance and quality time with the family. More women work outside the home - though they spend more time with the kids. In other words, moms today may not all be the stay-at-home moms from the 1950s, but they take on a much more active, fulfilling role in life - which will only help the children soar in the future. Kids will know that they can do anything their hearts desire.
Motherhood: What Remained the Same
Throughout every single decade over the years, there is one thing that has not changed - and that is what a mother stands for, what she fights for, and who she is.
A mother is selfless, fearless, and fierce. She is strong and always prepared to fight on the front lines for her kids. She makes sacrifices every single day. There are more days she can count where she has felt worthless and weak, wondering if her efforts are wasted. She worries that she isn’t good enough or that someway, somehow she is going to mess up her kids.
Yes, she is humble and modest. And she doesn’t quite grasp the magnitude of the task she has been handed. But every day, she puts her game face on and shows up again and again. She stands strong to fervently protect what is hers.
She is a warrior. She is a mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, my friends.