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How Do You Define Motherhood?

12 MAY 2024

Motherhood is a journey that defies simple explanation—it's complex and deeply nuanced. This Mother's Day at ZEUS+DIONE, we celebrate the multitude of ways in which mothers shape our lives. Every woman holds the capacity to be a mother, as all women contribute to the world in countless ways. They inspire, nourish, dream, create, and breathe life into existence—whether through childbirth or other profound acts of creation.

 

Artwork inspired by the photograph called 'Migrant Mother' taken in 1936 in Nipomo, California, by American photographer Dorothea Lange during her time with the Resettlement Administration

3-cent Mothers of America, Whistler's mother rotary press single, U.S. Postal Service, 1934-1935
3-cent Mothers of America, Whistler's mother rotary press single, U.S. Postal Service, 1934-1935
Salvador Dali, Maternitat
Salvador Dali, Maternitat

Beyond the biological ties and societal norms, motherhood extends into various facets of life. It's evident in the care given to creative projects, the encouragement of aspirations, and even the care we offer to ourselves. We easily think of our own mothers, perhaps their soothing presence during late-night cries or the guidance they provided. But motherhood goes beyond birth—it includes those aunts fiercely advocating for their nieces, the sisters who mirror our mothers in miniature, or the wisdom of grandmothers who shape generations.

 

Motherhood encompasses loss, sacrifice, and resilience. It embraces those who have experienced the heartbreaking loss of a child or a mother, as well as daughters who step into maternal roles, even for their own mothers, prematurely. Consider the migrant mothers separated from their children, sacrificing everything for their families, or the women in remote minority communities fighting for autonomy while caring for each other. It's about survival and deep love.

Gustav Klimt, Mother And Child
Gustav Klimt, Mother And Child
In the Yunnan Province, China, the horn-shaped hairstyle these women are wearing indicates they have had children.PHOTOGRAPH BY CHINA INLAND MISSION, TORONTO, NAT GEO IMAGE COLLECTION
In the Yunnan Province, China, the horn-shaped hairstyle these women are wearing indicates they have had children.PHOTOGRAPH BY CHINA INLAND MISSION, TORONTO, NAT GEO IMAGE COLLECTION

In our circles of loved ones, friends often become chosen mothers, offering solace when home feels distant. Foster or surrogate mothers provide safe havens for children in need. Teachers step in with vital emotional support, while community helpers guide those with special needs toward greater opportunities. And there are those who, despite never having the family they envisioned, open their hearts and arms widely to care for others—humans, plants, and animals alike. Each story adds a layer to what motherhood means today.

 

Motherhood is not confined by biology, gender, proximity, or traditional roles. It is defined by a universal quality of nurturing care. A mother can be anyone. Indeed, it is the essence and attributes of mothering that first come to mind. This Mother's Day, let us honour and recognize all these "other mothers,"—anyone who embodies the spirit of motherhood, bringing love, stability, and understanding into our lives.