Yes, it is the word that defines so many of us women – and it is much much more than our job description or family role. As we all know it’s the most maddening yet fulfilling job in the world. But what is the real definition of the word according to the academics? In case you’re curious….
In the case of a mammal such as a human, the biological mother gestates her child (called first an embryo, then a fetus) in the womb from conception until the fetus is sufficiently well-developed to be born. The mother then goes into labour and gives birth. Once the child is born, the mother produces milk to feed the child.
In non-sexual organisms, “mother” can sometimes be used to mean “parent”; in the case of single-celled organisms that reproduce by fission, the mother is a cell that divides to produce “daughters”.
Mothers typically have a very important role in raising children, and the title mother can be given to a woman other than a biological parent who fills this role. This is most commonly either an adoptive parent or a stepmother (the wife of a child’s father). The term can also refer to a person with stereotypical traits of a mother.
“Mum”/”mummy”, “Mom”/”mommy”, “mama” and “ma” are some familiar or colloquial words for a mother. In many south Asian cultures, the mother is known as “Amma” or “Oma” or “Ammi”, or variations thereof. The “M” sound seems to be universal to the word mother in many different languages. Many times these terms denote affection or a maternal role in a child’s life.
In some societies, single motherhood, the state of an unmarried mother, has been treated as a serious social issue.