Mama Mia series (3): Childless Mothers
In most parts of the world, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. This year it falls on May 13th. So this week will be dedicated to mothers and all nurturing souls.
Mother’s Day has taken on a whole new meaning to me now that I have my own child who depends on me for love, care and guidance 24/7. I have only been a mother for 26 months but all I can say is that it is the toughest, yet the most rewarding role I have ever played in my life.
Today I ask you – what does it really take to be a mother? If to be a mother is to be nurturing, loving and selflessly giving- then do you have to be a woman and do you have to give birth to your own child to be a mother? The answer to both questions: NO.
a digital pop art collage of famous nurturing figures
who never had children of their own
Mother Teresa (top left)
What more can be said? The Albanian nun moved to Calcutta and devoted herself to the poor, be they the terminally ill or orphans.(from Esquire)
Anna Jarvis (top centre)
Nope, the woman who founded Mother’s Day wasn’t even a mom herself. She was hopelessly devoted to her own mother, then spent years pursuing a national holiday, succeeding in 1914. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she spent the rest of her life criticizing others’ efforts: “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”(from Esquire)
Jane Addams (top right)
Like many a privileged youngster, Addams’s twenties found her in Europe, uncertain what to do with her future but with a vague notion she’d like to make the world a better place. Unlike many Eurotrippers, she actually did it. Upon returning stateside, she created the Hull House and devoted herself to Chicago’s underprivileged children. She continued to take on more and more charitable endeavors, earning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. (from Esquire)
Betty White (bottom left)
America demanded it: The 88-year-old needed to host Saturday Night Live’s Mother’s Day episode. Which is odd since White remains childless after three marriages. But having played a roster of beloved maternal characters from The Golden Girls’ Rose Nylund to The Proposal’s Grandma Annie, actual offspring seem to have become irrelevant. At least to Lorne Michaels (creator & executive producer of “Saturday Night Live”)(from Esquire)
Mary Eliza Mahoney (bottom centre)
A woman born in 1845 didn’t have many professional options — and that list got a lot shorter if that woman was black. Mahoney was the nation’s first professional African-American nurse, encouraging countless others to join the profession, then becoming head of New York’s Howard Orphan Asylum in 1911. She lived to 80, but had no offspring.
Oprah Winfrey (bottom right)
She actually had a child, but she was only 14 and the baby died weeks after its birth. Since then, the billionaire has steered away from having more offspring in lieu of mothering the entire planet, whether by creating her school for girls in South Africa or just trying to make us all better ourselves.(from Esquire)
My Addition to the Esquire List:
Here’s a third question to ponder on today:
is mothering limited to caring for the same species?
“Dian Fossey studied a group of gorillas in the forests of Rwanda for 18 years. Her work was supported by the famous anthropologist Louis Leakey. Considered the world’s leading authority on the physiology and behavior of mountain gorillas, Fossey fought hard to protect these “gentle giants” from environmental and human hazards. In 1985, Fossey was found hacked to death, presumably by poachers.” Info Source:biographydotcom
–So even when Dian Fossey never had children of her own, her life’s work to protect mountain gorillas makes her a most amazing mother.–