It’s something that we all need right now.
I knew that when I became a mother, I would be joining the ranks of fellow moms in my family, my workplace, my community. But what I didn’t know is the sense of camaraderie I would form with motherly figures I will never meet.
On one particularly stressful day during the newborn stage, I had this unshakeable thought: I am not the first—nor will I be the last—mom to survive this.
As I toyed with the idea of mothers existing all over the globe, long before my time, the entire history of motherhood seemed to wrap its arms around me.
I felt figuratively surrounded by moms I never knew.
Their presence gave me comfort, no matter where or when it might have been.
I think of a mom in Africa that worries about feeding her child. Our homes and lives are probably as different as they can be. And yet, I felt connected to her . . . whoever and wherever she is. We’ve probably shared many of the same thoughts.
I imagine a mother living somewhere in remote Central America who may have never accessed the internet or running water. I would guess that she has a lot of the same worries about her child as a woman today living in a large city. The city mom likely depends on online forums and Google to research the areas of motherhood that concern her, maybe a nanny to care for her children while she works her way up the corporate ladder. The mom living in a mountaintop jungle community might have no concept of any of these things and relies entirely on her tribe. Their circumstances and daily routines are completely different. But I imagine both moms loving unconditionally, advocating for their child’s safety, and putting their baby’s needs above their own.
As moms do.
The powerful notion that motherhood defies geographical borders, social classes, and even spans centuries, generations, languages, and ethnicities is something that comes to mind often for me. Through this role, we are all more alike than we tend to think.
Universally, moms struggle with breastfeeding, toilet training, sleep issues, and even emotional or behavioral changes. We worry about their future. We have primal instincts to shield them from danger. We feel guilt over the way we may have treated them during a stressful time. We wonder if they’re happy, if they’re learning and growing as they should be. We nurture them as if it’s second nature. As if, deep down, we have always been what we would ultimately come to know ourselves as—a mother.
It’s hard to imagine enduring these same struggles during history’s most significant events, where raising your child and surviving the unthinkable often went hand-in-hand. I empathize with mothers who were the silent backdrop of our history. Caring for the future generation, their world consumed by events we’d later learn about in textbooks. But still grappling with many of the fundamental issues we still face in motherhood today.
In the 1800s as American women trekked the dusty, desolate Oregon Trail—there were mothers.
During World War II as entire countries waged war on each other and ravaged cities, filled concentration camps and hid in bomb shelters—there were mothers.
In ancient Biblical times as Israelites lived their day-to-day lives that we often try to envision when we read the Bible. We think about how absolutely different their culture was thousands of years ago.
But still—there were mothers.
In every country, since the beginning of human life on Earth—there were mothers.
Today still, we have mothers with their own unique struggles to navigate. Present times have women troubled with formula shortages, wondering how they’ll feed their babies. Simply living life is much more expensive than it used to be. Families may be divided by politics and the world is still suffering the impacts of a global pandemic.
I don’t know what it may have been like to live in different eras or cultures, but I feel connected to the women of our past through motherhood. I am a mother in today’s society, which will someday be history. My story is unique, and yet so similar to many others.
No matter what religion we practice, or what our skin color is. Regardless of our spoken language, where we live, or our beliefs. Despite the choices we’ve made or how we were raised.
Motherhood binds us all.
Motherhood unites us with the past, and will always connect us to our future.
In this single word, signifying life’s most powerful role, we are all connected. Women of our past, present, and future, all over the world. Every culture, every continent, every generation.
Motherhood transcends all.