The difference is….
Stay with me here, I promise there’s a deeper meaning to this
Usually, when someone starts off an essay or writing of any kind, with a definition, I typically respond with a huge resounding sigh, and an eye roll. In almost all cases, I respond with both. But I will break my own unspoken rule, just this once because I think it’s appropriate in this context.
As defined in Merriam-Websters dictionary:
Mom, noun: a female parent
That’s it. It’s also listed as an abbreviation and makes a reference to the more formal term, mother.
Mother: a female parent. A woman in authority. (Think Mother Teresa). An old or elderly woman, (think mother Hubbard, never have I felt such indignation behind the definition of a word). Source, origin. Maternal tenderness or affection. Short for mother….think a vulgar term, that I’m ashamed to say slips out more than it should. Something that is an extreme or ultimate example of its kind especially in terms of scale (the mother of all ocean liners). These are all the ways it's used as a noun. I was a little surprised to see it being used as an adjective:
Mother: of, relating to, or being a mother. (Perhaps I shouldn’t have been as surprised, in hindsight). Bearing the relation of a mother. Acting as or providing parental stock. Hmm. Seeing as how this will probably be the last time I start off a piece with the definition, I figure why not keep going and see how far this thing can go.
Mother as a verb: to give birth to, to give rise to, produce. To care for or protect like a mother.
There. That last definition is what I’m more familiar with. And this is not to infer that I think the folks over at merman-webster aren’t doing a fantabulous job at defining words, and providing clarity, but I would like to think they left a few things out when defining mother. More specifically in his usage of a verb.
And before I go further, and to take advantage of this whole “using definitions to write thing” I would be remiss if I didn’t do the same thing for “father.”
Father: a male parent, (ok, that’s fair). A man who has begotten a child. God sense (WHOA). The first person of the Trinity. (Hmm, ok, again, fair). One related to another in a way suggesting that of a father to a child. (Seems a bit redundant, but ok). An old man-used as a respectful form of address. (So the mother is just an old woman, but a father is respected in the same sense, OK, there’s that indignation again). One that originates or institutes. A source, a prototype. A priest of the regular clergy, one of the leading men as of a city.
I promise this will be the last definition, but bear with me.
Father as a verb: beget. To be the founder, producer, or author of. To accept responsibility for, to fix the paternity or origin of.
I find it interesting the contrast in the two official definitions for these two words. Now in my world, a father and a mother should take on the same roles, and responsibilities. Both parents share their children equally and should have the same influence, authority, and impact on their children’s life. In the REAL world, we moms know that’s not exactly the case. All other definitions aside, let’s look at the difference between fathering, and mothering, in verb form. The mother gives birth to, the father is the founder of, the mother cares and protects, the father accepts responsibility for. Verbs, traditionally are words that show some sort of action or state of being. State of being.
Et tu, Brute?
Considering that the first Merriam-Webster dictionary was originally published in 1847, I'd like to think that the gender confining, archaic societal norms that these definitions represent, are more reminiscent of the time. But it's this particular description on the website that I have a little bit of trouble with:
The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary is a unique, regularly updated, online-only reference.
The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary is where these definitions originated. The above statement implies that the dictionary has been updated since 1847, at least I would like to think so. And since the internet didn't exist in 1847, the folks over there at Merriam-Webster would have at least given it a cursory glance when deciding to publish it on the internet. Or maybe not? The point is, that this resource and others like it, still bow to the unfair outdated notion, "mama's baby, papa's maybe." That's the problem I have with the word "accept" and responsibility in the definition for a father. Some fathers are more a "noun" than a "verb." But some mothers can claim this too. As more and more mothers are entering into, or are in the workplace, more and more fathers are not only accepting responsibility for their children, but they are also raising, protecting, and caring for them as well. C'mon Merriam-Webster, we can do better.
Disclaimer: This is Just My opinion
I’ll make this statement. It is my opinion that before you become a mother, you should be forced to look at the definition of a mother and decide what it is you want to do. (There are also some other things I feel moms and dads should have to do before becoming a parent, but that’s’ a rant for another time). When you become a mom, you typically tend to think of it as a noun, you know person, place or thing. For example, hi, I’m Adrienne. My lap, arms, legs, entire body are places of respite, for my children. My head, shoulders, knees and toes (ha!), arms, fingers, eyes, ears, nose, hair, stomach, legs, have all been the following for my children: toys, punching bags, pillows, things to poke, balance beams (back), things to attach things too, a raceway, (place), a trampoline, a bean bag, it goes on and on. And these are things that come with the territory. But not the only things.
Your state of being. Birthing, and producing. Anyone can do that if you ask me. But the raising and caring for? It takes a special type of person to actually do these things. Look at the noun form again. There’s a reason the noun form is three words. Because being a mom in noun is simple. A female parent. You're female and you are the parent of a child. Each and everyone one of us has that in common, we all have a female parent. A mother. But being a mom in verb? That’s where the REAL work comes in. That’s where the learning, the caring, the crying, the yelling, the listening, the nurturing, the sharing, the showing, the SACRIFICING, the protecting, the rearing, and so many more things come into play.
(It would be irresponsible of me if I didn’t give a slight shout out to the fathers out there who are “moms in verb” too.)
I’m proud to call myself a mom in noun AND verb. Being a mom is what I was called to be. It’s what I was placed on this earth for. But that shouldn't be where it ends.
I promise my intention is not to make this a political rant, statement, or essay challenging societal norms, but modern parenting is so much more than the father accepting responsibility for, and the mother being responsible for raising the child. We have children who have two fathers, two mothers, being raised by aunties and uncles, cousins, friends, grandparents. Some mentors take on a parental role. So from henceforth, I'd like to be known as a mom in noun, not verb. I'm a female parent, who mothers her children. Just like a father, can mother their children. Or an LGBTQ parent who can mother their children. That is a more accurate representation of the "modern parent" today.
Thanks for listening.
original posted on https://medium.com/modern-parent/mom-in-noun-not-verb-ff8410b6f318?sk=bc12f9a437fb6f99ef5f78716f680f33