What Does It Mean To Be A Mom?

This past weekend was Mother's Day, a time to celebrate the mothers in our lives. For some it's a joyous occasion, while for others it can be a bit more complicated (or even flat out painful).

But there are so many ways to be a mom, no formula to get it "right", and no one single definition of motherhood.

Currently I’m spending the month in Cape Town, South Africa - commonly referred to as the Mother City. While there is speculation how the city got the nickname, it is a term used affectionately by local Capetonians to describe the sense of home they feel here.

There is that mother word again. So what exactly does it mean to be a mom? 

Exactly a year ago on Mother’s Day I published my first episode of Women On A Mission and this week I am so excited to resume episodes, starting with Mellisa Reeves (co-host of the podcast Motherbirth). 

What I thought was going to be an interview about her transition from being a partner in a successful real estate firm to branching out on her own, turned into one of the most moving, vulnerable, and deeply personal interviews about what it means to be a mother. 

When in doubt, google it!

For a lot of people motherhood can be a loaded word, so I wanted to explore a little deeper what it means to be a mom - with all of the weight and complexity that word brings.

I was surprised to find out the the word is both a noun and a verb ... a person and an action


  • noun: a female in relation to its offspring

  • verb: 1. to bring up with care and affection   

    • 2. to give birth to a chid   

    • 3. to care for or protect someone like a mother

mama bear, fairy godmother, mother nature

There was a time when a village raised a child, each person stepping up in their own way. 

Although not a “mother” myself, I do have strong feelings about motherhood. I spent a year as a foster mother, I'm a dog mom, I'm the oldest of 4 siblings, I have loved kids like they were mine, but most importantly I have been mothered:  by my own mom, by stand in moms, by mentors, by friends.

Mothers are women who show up everyday … for their kids, for their partners, for their friends, and for themselves (because moms need self-care too!).

Whether you birth a baby or a business, are mothering your own child or are protecting and caring for someone you love, mothering is the act of giving yourself to something, protecting and caring for it with your whole heart.  

My closest friends are some of the fiercest, most inspirational mothers I have ever seen. To be fair, they wouldn’t tell you that. They would tell you they are doing the best they can, sometimes struggle, and are often unsure. But I think that is part of motherhood. No mom says “I got this, no big deal.”

I have been lucky that not only do they make being a mom look easy, they share their struggles, ask their community for support, and are intentional about what kind of example they want to show their kids. 

Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother. - Oprah Winfrey
  • Maybe you mother other people’s kids as a stepmom, foster mom, auntie or teacher

  • Maybe you aren’t a mother anymore

  • Or you aren’t a mother yet

  • Maybe you didn’t mean to be a mom

  • Or it is your life's purpose

  • Maybe not being a mother was a choice

  • Or you can’t be a mother, despite wanting it desperately


For being brave, for stepping up, for taking care of us when we're sick, and for loving us unconditionally.  Mothers don’t often hear “thank you” for the sacrifices, the effort, or the investment you put in us. We may not say it in the moment, but we do notice all that you do.

Thank you ... 

For showing up and giving your all, even when you don't feel like it. Feel like some days you’re failing? That's because you care - and you're doing great. There isn't a way to be a perfect mom but there are a million ways to be a great one. Everyday you show up and give it your all. 

Thank you ... 

For teaching us the hard lessons. You have a lot of responsibility: should you breastfeed, should you work, should you sleep train? Everyone has a different opinion about what you should do. Ignore them - You got this, go with your gut. 

Thank you ...

For all the sacrifices you make that we don't see. For your lack of sleep, time, energy, pre-baby body, sanity. Your job is 24/7 and somehow you still make it look easy.

Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world, a mother’s love is not. - James Joyce


Step mother, birth mother, mom … mother earth, mother nature, motherland. Whatever form it takes on, one thing is true ... being a mom isn't for the faint of heart. 

So in honor of Mother’s Day, the next round of Women On A Mission interviews, and to celebrate all you mamas out there (no matter what form that takes on) ... I want to celebrate all that you do everyday. And in case no one has told you today -

you’re a great mom!