Portrait of a Mother as a Definition


First recorded before 900. From Old English modor (to take care of); Dutch “dregs” (sediment, remains that settle at the bottom); German (swampy land); is prevalent in many cultures. Sense of that which has given birth to anything.

1. a female parent, as: a) one’s female role-model, such as: a parent, adoptive mother, foster mother, stepmother, mother-in-law, aunt, female teacher, big sister, neighbor who holds sacred space for your coming, leaves a door open in her heart even if you’ve forgotten to bathe, and simmers lentils when part of you has died. Mother regarded, as: b) having the status, function, or authority of a female parent. A woman exercising control over what nourishes bodies, influences your identity, provides you with place and a sense of belonging; an authority who echoes wisdom, ethos, and pathos that undulates through the liquid ocean of your expanse.

2. to care for or protect like a mother, performing the tasks or duties of a female, sometimes in an excessive (obsessive) way as; It’s in her nature to love and mother those around her. Icing bruised knees, scrubbing vomit from carpeting, duct-taping broken windows. Rising into the continuous discontinuity of ruinous days to fill her son’s bowls with milk and honeyed Oh’s, washing stains from uniforms, tuning instruments, and applauding achievements. Holding her mask up with the right hand while steering with the left, never ceding hope she could sell them the world, even though she knows she is shading a darkness they’d have to uncover themselves.

3. a woman who originates or creates something, as: a) the invention of; manatee tails on Halloween costumes, tennis courts made of lemon cake, and sore throats cured with chicken soup. b) To be the mother of, as; sons without fathers, daughters of other mothers, wives of sons, cats with mice dismembered, a dog who never tires—of you.  

4. native, derived from as if from one’s mother, as; a) granddaughter of Anna who left her mother country to birth a daughter into a world that drops A-bombs on a country where another mother takes a granddaughter on a train to take refuge in a mountain—who in a half-century, become mothers of possibility when a son makes a daughter a mother, bearing new hope. And; b) when the daydreams become nightmares, you become your mother, raging at a cloudless sky, weeping under a supermoon, falling to your knees, and righting yourself, again.

5. the qualities characteristic of maternal affection, as; making a home for them to return to when the world has become too heavy to shoulder, serving a warm plate of brownies when their hearts are broken, and choosing them over all others, even if that means you will be alone when they leave again.

6. to acknowledge oneself as author of; a) because motherhood has no perfect analytics, and you love them when they hurt you, taking them into your arms again and again, feeding them the stories of all the mothers who carried forth the seeds to create the miracle of them, us. b) to assume as one’s own; when the world intercedes in your perfect moment in time, your love may not be enough to fix what cannot be unbroken. His hope will wither in the void you cannot see but can taste the bitterness of on your mother tongue, and in times when he shines his beautiful smile, you will forget that he was broken and you’ll believe that your love could heal a wound deeper than your motherly-instincts could have conceived. You will survive to write this story and you will be heartbroken.

Variance: Motherhood: having or relating to an inherent worthiness, justness, or goodness that is obvious or unarguable: origination pushed through on a motherhood basis.

Synonyms: Mom, mommy, mama, parent, ancestor, creator, origin, source, child-bearer, forebearer, procreator, bad person, author, foster, engender, care for, native, Earth, figure, mother tongue, Mother Nature, Mother-of-pearl.

1998 – Kindergarten

© Deborah Garcia 2021, All Rights Reserved
Images by Deborah Garcia

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