I think I started getting told I will be "a wonderful mother some day" when I was about twelve years old. It was a pretty frequent refrain in my coming of age, and then time in college and my masters degrees. When I worked as a resident life coordinator, I was called casually,"dorm mom" and I took that title seriously. When Owen and I lived in Leiden I was asked if I was pregnant or "when do you think you'll you have kids?" many, many times. I don't say this to complain, and I do see these comments as compliments, but I only mean to say that that my whole life I've fit the mold of what people think of when they think of "a wonderful mother" without always thinking about what kind of mother I'd like to be.
Mothers do so much of the caregiving in this world. The loving, the feeding, the anticipating of conflict, the peacemaking, the calming, the supporting, the behind the scenes jobs, the basic routines of life, the organizing, the making sure the bag is packed with everything everyone will need, the watching the bags while everyone else engages in the activities, the prep for every emergency, and balm for every hurt. I am a huge fan of nearly all of these tasks, but less of a fan of them always falling to the same portion of society. My hope is that we can move away from the assumption that it's the mother's job to do these things, because I want these things to be everyone's job, and for mothers to also receive care. I worry about the ways in which the work of motherhood is referred to as "priceless" or of "infinite value" as a way of justifying the ways in which women are so often paid nothing for the essential work they do in this world, and even the under-recognition towards mothers is turned inside out as some sort of virtue of humility.