The first mother mentioned in the Bible is, of course, Eve.
Genesis 3:20 says,
“The man called his wife’s name *Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”
Most of us know the rest of the story. Eve ate the apple from the forbidden tree, before giving it to her husband.
God was angry and cursed both of them saying that there would always be enmity between them. Childbirth and labour would be painful for the woman, the earth would not yield good crops and that all men and women would die.
I often reflect on the women that I have cared for over the years, both as a midwife and now as a counsellor offering therapy for depression and anxiety during the childbirth process. One thing that is very obvious to me, is that women undergo an enormous change to become mothers and this involves physical as well as emotional and psychological changes.
So, what is motherhood?
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as:
“The State of being a mother”
Perhaps a fuller definition would be to describe…
A Mother is a very much revered status that can bring much joy, fulfilment and laughter.
A Mother can also bring a great deal of pain, sadness, frustration and exhaustion.
A Mother’s role is multi-factoral and she is perceived as the nurturer, the teacher, the nurse, a source of comfort and a friend.
A Mother should be supportive, patient and consistent. Along with all these qualities, a Mother should love her child unconditionally.
Obviously, a Mother’s job is no easy task. There’s more…
There are no days off.
A Mother must be able to remain calm under any circumstances. Especially with smaller children. Patience is a trait that every mother must have.
A Mother has many other perceived roles to fulfil.
Cleaner, bread winner, laundry specialist, chef, lover, friend, daughter, sister and so on.
No wonder it is a hard job and why so many women feel sad following a birth.
Not only do they have to adapt to a new and demanding role, they often have to lose some of their old lives and selves. In short, it is possible to lose sight of who they once were.
The other phenonomen that I have observed not only in myself but other women and mothers I have cared for, is how raw their feelings can be following birth and how much emotional pain can be felt for other people. I want to quote Annie Lennox who sums Motherhood up beautifully and succinctly.
“Motherhood was the great equaliser for me; I started to identify with everybody….as a mother, you have that impulse to wish that no child should ever be hurt, or abused, or go hungry, or not have opportunities in life”.
Perhaps this is also the kind of pain that ‘God’ refers to in Genesis in the bible, who knows.
I think that it is OK to feel different after giving birth and it’s OK to feel sad for a while.
It’s only when that sadness goes on and on and there is no joy, that maybe counselling and therapy or just talking to someone is necessary.
J.D. Salinger in the book Catcher in the Rye suggests that “Mothers are all slightly insane”. I agree that some women and mothers are possibly aat risk of losing their minds, but at the same time are finding them.
I end with the words of Margaret Sanger who said…
“No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.”
*”Eve” means life or living