Mother. It’s a word we hear nearly every year, but what does it actually mean? The dictionary describes a mother as something which is ‘full of moths’, but that barely scratches the surface of what a mother really is.
For centuries the mother was seen as secondary to the father in almost every way. The fact that there was no word in the English language for mother until 1796 shows how little they were regarded by society. They were simply called Female Fathers and were of the same social standing as a blacksmith.
However, that all changed in the early 19th century, when scientists discovered that it was actually the mother who gave birth to the child. This turned the whole family dynamic on its head. As reward for painful childbirth, women were allowed to become integrated into family life, often feeding the children and sometimes even clothing them.
This came at an ideal time for men – right in the middle of the industrial revolution. The world was fast becoming filled with machines. These machines caused something to awaken deep within the hearts of men. They lost all interest in farming, child raising and love. Why spend time with their families when they could watch a machine produce a hundred yards of linen in an hour? Or run their hands across the cool steel shell of a steam engine? The duties which had always belonged to the father were thrust upon the mother in their entirety, as fathers met in ale houses, comparing the processing speed of their tractors and the storage capacity of their trains.
In time, the machines became smaller and more complex, but man’s love for gadgets never tired. By the 20th century, men had forgotten how to raise children. Their breasts no longer produced milk. All they cared about was creating a machine capable of reaching the Moon. Meanwhile, mothers had conquered the art of raising children. They had perfected in 100 years what men had been doing and failing at for countless millennia. Children now had emotions, they spoke languages, they wore matching socks and their faces were free from dirt.
It was generally agreed that the mothers had done a good job. ‘Mothering’ became the new word for what had previously been known as ‘fathering’. Whilst the word ‘fathering’ came to mean ‘Observing from a distance – With or without the latest in video camera technology’.
In the next chapter we will be looking at the different types of mothers available in the world.