All Mothers are Philosophers

Mothers are pictured in a file photo at a home in Silver Spring, Md. Activists at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Jan. 30, 2023 discussed how to be pro-woman, pro-worker and pro-family. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Bob Roller)

(This is the first of series of reflections on motherhood that were published in NZ Catholic last week.)


After one of our slightly hectic cafe dates with my three little nephews, my sister got talking about motherhood as we walked back to the car.

“It’s tempting nowadays with social media to focus on the difficulties and inconveniences of motherhood, and. . . .”

“Blah blah blah…” interjects the one-year-old (When did he learn that?!).
“. . . I think mothers can feel threatened by seeing other mothers raising a child in a completely different way,” she continues, “because all mothers want to do the right thing by their kids.  But there’s no rule book. You do your best with what you’ve got.”

The conversation cut short while she wrestled the boys into the car. We picked it up a few days later, while they were absorbed in their Lego and my sister was taking advantage of the moment’s quiet to sketch out a new concept for one of her part-time jobs.

“Even with all the gripes and worries, it’s always the most worthy use of my time. Just being with them.”

“It’s a vocation,” adds our Mum from the kitchen, kneading dough for a batch of scones and simultaneously appeasing the one-year-old.

“What about your work as an artist?”  I asked, watching her sketch. “Are you more . . .?”

“Way, way more creative. Especially in those early months when your sleep is very broken up and you’re slightly delirious . . . I think art comes from life, and there’s nothing like a seismic shift in your life to light that creative spark again.”

“Of course, you become more creative,” our Mum adds, “because you have to keep them amused!”

“Granny? Granny?”

The four-year-old is holding something unrecognisable that might be part of an insect. My sister watches appreciatively as our Mum handles the situation.

“If there’s one thing my Mum gave me,” she muses, “it’s an appreciation of the little things. The ability to find magic in the tiniest, most seemingly insignificant moments.  And being able to share that wonder of life with your kids . . . the wonder of the wind moving through the trees and the sound it makes . . .”

Our Mum whispers from the kitchen, “God’s Creation”.

“Exactly.  And you’re experiencing it again for the first time with them . . . It’s so fulfilling, that that’s my job: to walk with them, holding their hands, walking in wonder too.  You learn just as much from them . . .”

“When they’re little,” she continues, “you find yourself awake for 2-3 hours at night and you contemplate everything. I found myself in contemplation of the miracle of life – of how this child is here.

“Which brings us to the point that – there are so many philosophers of human nature, most of them historically men, but mothers experience human nature from its origin and in its purest form. Every mother, whether they articulate it or not, has a deep understanding of human nature. All mothers are philosophers.”

Photo: OSV News/Bob Roller

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