Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day! 😀 The Mister got me a sweet card and let me pick out some patio furniture for the back deck, so I would say it was worth it. 😉
At church services yesterday, many people included me in their Mother’s Day wishes, although some made a distinction between those celebrating “Mother’s Day” and those celebrating “Mother-to-be Day.” While I know that none of these people meant anything by it and were in no way diminishing my celebration, I did have a few thoughts on the subject occur to me. I am not upset about this at all, but I want to share a few things I thought of that might make us all think twice about the phrase “mother-to-be” in the future.
The phrase “mother-to-be” indicates a woman who is not yet a mother but will be at some future point in time. This is often, as was the case yesterday, used to indicate a woman who does not yet have a baby independent of her own body, which would include currently pregnant women.
But, to figure out what that phrase actually means, we need to define exactly what a “mother” is.
I think we would all agree that a mother is a woman who has some number of children (whether one or multiples). So the number of children does not matter. Is a woman raising adopted children a mother? Yes, of course. So the biological or adopted status of the child does not matter. Is a woman who has lost a child still a mother, even though her child is no longer living? Yes, of course! So the alive/not-alive state of the child does not matter.
So we’ve determined that a mother is a woman who has any number of children, living or not.
I’m going to take a moment to assume all my readers believe life begins at conception. (If you don’t, I’m not using this particular article to try and convince you otherwise. Just go with it for a moment.)
If life begins at conception, then it does not begin on the day of a child’s birth. A birthday simply marks the anniversary of the day a child came into the world – or was “born” – but not the day that child became alive, since that begins at conception. (For example, my birthday is May 29, and this year I will celebrate 27 years since I came into the world. However, I’ve been alive approximately nine months longer than that.)
If this is true, then a pregnant woman (like myself) has a living child. I do not yet have a laughing, smiling, crying baby that is physically independent of my body, but I do have a living child that is approximately 17 weeks old.
So, going back to our previously-agreed-upon definition of a mother: I am a woman who has a living child. So I am already a mother. A mother today. Not a mother someday-to-be.
A mother-to-be would actually, using that phrase correctly, be a woman who does not have a child, in any form, but hopes to have one someday. A woman who is pregnant already has a living child and is therefore already a mother, not a mother someday-to-be. If something happened to that unborn child, whether at three months or five months or eight months of development, we would still consider that woman to be that child’s mother. So why do we make the distinction before its birth?
So, yesterday I celebrated Mother’s Day, not Mother-to-be Day, because I am already a mother.
I am a great lover of words, and I believe words should be used correctly and in a precise way to convey their individual meanings. So maybe using the phrase “mother-to-be” to refer to a pregnant woman isn’t really the best thing. Maybe that indicates through our words – whether it is what we truly believe or not – that the child growing inside said woman does not yet make her a mother outright, which would mean it is not yet alive.
Because if life begins at conception, we need to be consciously speaking of it as a real life from that point on, not a someday-to-be, theoretical sort of life. Because when you start talking about it as a theoretical life, then you fall down the rabbit hole of “well, if it’s not a real life, then does it matter how we treat it?” And that, my friends, is where the madness is.
Just something to consider. Like I said, I know what those people meant and am not offended by it, I just think we should take a moment to consider popularly accepted phrases and what they actually mean before we accept that they are appropriate.