The evolution of the mother figure

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By Reabetswe Khutsoane

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 5 of VARSITY News.


Being a mother is arguably the world’s most difficult task, but also an incredibly rewarding experience. Donna Ball described motherhood saying, “Motherhood is a choice you make every day to put someone else’s happiness and wellbeing ahead of your own, to teach hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again for doing everything wrong.”


Pop culture has portrayed mothers both fictionally and in reality. Black-ish’s Rainbow Johnson is your average working mom who has to balance work life, while still being the best mother she can be to her five children. Tamera Mowrey-Housely from The Real often tells true stories of her journey as a mother and how she tackles working in the entertainment industry but still being present in her children’s lives and having memorable experiences with them. We’re seeing pop culture highlighting the reality that mothers face, while honouring them for the phenomenal roles they play in the lives of their children and in shaping society.


Mother’s Day is a celebration of mothers and motherhood, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who would honour their mother-figure goddesses in a festival. Early Christianity had “Mothering Sunday”, a festival with the same purpose and this became more secular and transcended to most parts of the world.


Over time, we have seen this tradition evolve from celebrating traditional mothers, to appreciating all the mother figures present in modern day society. We are seeing relatives like aunts, cousins and siblings being honoured for taking care of and nurturing children in their various capacities. Neighbours and friends’ moms are recognised for taking children under their wing when their own parents may be preoccupied. Teachers are acknowledged for their nurturing and inspiring children to reach their potential.


The list does not end there. Society takes note of single fathers who play the role of both mother and father in their children’s lives and never fail to let their children know just how much they are loved. This same notion transcends to the LGBTQIA+ community with children honouring their parents for the roles they play in their lives.


Regardless of how the modern mom looks, they shape who we become as a human race and that alone deserves more celebration than just one day in a year for the lifetime they sacrifice for the futures of their children.



This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.


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