Since Henry was born I’ve been thinking about the difference between parenting and motherhood. i didn’t look in the dictionary, I don’t really want to know the official meaning of the words. I just feel they are so different, that I keep trying to put feelings, thoughts, even facebook posts into two boxes, one labelled motherhood and the other parenting.
Here’s how I see them. Parenting is how to educate your child. Focus on the child’s educational needs – good manners, playing games, discipline, make sure they are clean, safe, fed, the homework is done and so on. Something my husband will share with me, after all, he is also a parent.
Now, motherhood, that’s a completely different story. This is something exclusive to me. Rob will never know what motherhood is because… well, because he is a man, so he will experience fatherhood. Motherhood is how I feel about being a mother: fear, happiness, love, doubts, insecurities. No doubt many men have these same feelings, and Rob does so too, but our view of the world is different because of the different roles we play. There is also the biological, tribal, all female thing, I don’t know how to explain. That bond that women have for having gone through the challenge of becoming mothers (whether through pregnancy or adoption), that links me, to my mother, my grandmother and all the women in my family.
I had my parents staying with us for 3 weeks and my motherhood clan theory was proved right. My mum gave me a lot of advice and some criticism as well (of course), but more than anything, we shared the experience of 35 years ago and now. I felt closer than ever to her when I said that breastfeeding is being an almost endless source of frustration for me, and she agreed. She had exactly the same problems when I was born. That gave me not only comfort, but also confidence to know I’m doing the right thing and am not the only one to struggle. In fact, it made me stronger as a mother and as a daughter because now I know my mother and I are even more alike.