I think it’s time for a term change. Pregnancy, for many people, is some kind of precursor to motherhood. We see sayings such as “Mother-to-be” or “Expecting Mother” on cards, in advertisements and even doctor’s offices.
As a wife and mother who is currently pregnant with our fifth child, I have some experience in the “mommy-to-be” world. Having gone through it now a few times, I have some opinions on the phrase:
1.) Parents are the source of new life.
The most basic definition of what it means to be a mom is to be a female parent. Taken a step further, a parent is unsurprisingly “a mother or a father.” What unhelpful, circular logic! A subsequent definition of parent is a bit more helpful – “the origin or source.” Ah, now we are getting somewhere.
A mother or father then is the origin or source of something. Of what? Of their children. Nothing so beautifully shows this reality than pregnancy, where for 9 months a mother’s body is literally growing a new human being. We anticipate the birth of our children, but the child, the “thing” being originated, is already very present. My body is not spontaneously convulsing as I write these words, the child growing within me is stretching and growing. They are listening to my voice as I read over what I’ve written as well as the giggles from their older siblings playing in the background. They react to light and pressure while practicing breathing and swallowing to prepare for life outside my womb.
2.) Parents do not create life on their own.
Which leads to another thought. Did the mother originate her child on her own? Of course not. We know how biology and procreation work. Together, both parents participate in the origination, the creation, of their child along with, most mysteriously, God our Father and Creator. God, the origin of all life, allows for our participation in the creation of our children. Who, by the way, are not created ready to be born.
3.) New life matters, even if it’s not fully developed.
Like all mammals, it takes time and energy to grow a child within you. No living thing, from my knowledge, is created fully formed. All things have a source, and all things must grow from that source. From this perspective, the terms “expectant father” or “expectant mother” don’t make a whole lot of sense if the couple is already pregnant.
There is a lot going on in our world right now about pregnancy with many differing opinions. For some, the phrase “mom-to-be” is quite helpful, because it affirms the belief that there is no child until birth. Then motherhood can begin. But this doesn’t make sense when our technology clearly affirms a baby’s heartbeat. We can see their individual fingers and toes, observe their unique nose and even internal organs. All of this we know prior to their birth.
We saw that the dictionary identifies a mother as a parent, and a parent as the origin or source. My body is the origin of my child. Taking away the phrase “expectant mother” and moving forward in a new conversation about when motherhood begins can open doors into the life issue from a new angle.
So, my dear mommy’s-to-be and daddy’s-to-be, take a stand for your true motherhood and fatherhood. You are carrying, nurturing and loving your child, no matter how many weeks or months pregnant you are. You are mother and father to them from day one, not when you discover their birthday.
Liked this article about pregnancy and motherhood? Check out more of Kate’s posts on her blog Daily Graces.
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About the Author
Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She and her husband have four children and are currently pregnant with their fifth. Kate has a Masters in Religious Education and enjoys homeschooling her older children.