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May 8, 2016
by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

Motherhood Redefined: What It Means to Celebrate Mother's Day?

May 8, 2016 07:47 by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT   [About the Author]

Every year, Mother’s Day is decked with extravagant bouquets of sundry flowers, cards, gifts, and balloons to pay homage to our mothers – both living and deceased.

Traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, Mother’s Day has always been historically meaningful and continues to be observed as an official holiday throughout the world.

Though in various forms and traditions, humans have long been commemorating Mother’s Day in the collective spirit of honoring our mothers.

What Is Motherhood?

Motherhood is described as the state or experience of having or raising a child.  To a great extent, this generalized concept of motherhood is often defined and understood in the context of being a mother who bears and rears a child.

Being a mother, however, often extends beyond the physical act of birthing or raising a child. A true sense of motherhood can ultimately emerge from the genuine act of nurturing and caring.

For this reason, motherhood can be assumed via the varied avenues whether it be biological, surrogate, adoptive, or spiritual. And being a mom is not the only prerequisite for embodying the sense of motherhood. Based on each individual’s personal experience and meaning ascribed to it, the concept of motherhood can be uniquely constructed.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is the epitome of this unconventional motherhood. Although she’s never birthed a child, she’s widely regarded and revered as the mother of the most destitute and vulnerable as her entire life was devoted to caring for them. Her legacy has boldly defied the traditional definition of what it means to be a mother.

New Facet of Motherhood

If motherhood is not exclusively qualified by our biological makeup or rigidly endorsed by certain parameters, then all of us (irrespective of our individual differences) may be capable of adopting motherhood.

Every human being is born with the predisposition to be caring, respectful, encouraging, gentle, kind, and loving.  

These are the quintessential traits of a mother which have also been imparted to every person since birth. And these inherent qualities are at the core of who we are as human beings.

Whether we are mothers or not in the traditional sense, all humans have been called to live a life in accord with our roots.

In this vein, the whole paradigm of motherhood may be challenged to demystify its meaning and hence, its definition in a much broader and more universal context.

Then, motherhood in its conventional logic, may no longer be a convenient label attached to those we singularly categorize and even stereotype as mothers.

Motherhood - the Archetype of Humanity

Mothers often exemplify the goodness of people. They constantly model for us how to be distinct as humans, bringing out the best in human nature.

But mothers are not the only people who have been called to invoke these rare but very human gifts. We all have been called to follow suit in our lifelong endeavors to actualize this inheritance.

At the end of the day, this is the real purpose of our existence and motherhood may be the ultimate vehicle through which are to live out this purpose. If more of us can tap into and espouse the true essence of motherhood in daily living, we may actually be able to make this planet even a better place to live.

So, it may not be so far-fetched to construe motherhood as the prototype of humanity – the blueprint of human life.

This Mother’s Day, we are once again reminded of this sacred calling and asked to come together to celebrate it in concert with one another. 


Mother’s Day. History. (2016). Retrieved from

About the Author

Dr. Agnes Oh Dr. Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

Dr. Agnes Oh is dually licensed as a clinical psychologist and a marriage and family therapist. For the last fifteen years, Dr. Oh has devoted her practice primarily in the areas of trauma, grief/loss, couples/family issues, and multicultural counseling, as well as personal empowerment. Dr. Oh is an avid proponent of a strength-based, relational approach to helping people as she firmly believes in each person’s intrinsic power to heal, grow, and thrive given the proper guidance and support.

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