Extract from Susan Harford, “What Does It Mean to Mother?” in Visions and Vocations:
My status has forced me to contemplate prayerfully what it means to be ‘Mother’ and what ‘mothering’ entails. Now, after decades in the role, I feel no less a mother than any woman who has given birth and raised a child, and no less a failure or success either. Motherhood has been and continues to be a magnificent human and spiritual journey to which I was called – even if the calling is not rooted in biology.
Most people (parents or not) admit there’s no such thing as a perfect mother. Yet most of us have expectations of what a mother should be and do, within a margin of error colored by our culture, our family traditions, our religion, parenting literature, and many other outside influences. We measure ourselves against these and judge others by these expectations. We make decisions throughout the milestone years as best we can with what we know. Mothering comes naturally, if not always clearly, and not without pain. My circumstances demand openness to cultures and traditions I shall never fully understand in order to provide my child and grandchild with the fundamental bonding and full acceptance that allows God to unfurl the unique gifts given to each of them.