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Relationships Sundays

Immediate Family Relations

A Face Only A Mother Could Love

Ever heard the expression a face only a mother could love? It’s kind of a horrible expression, save for the fact that it showcases the special bond of love between a mother and her child.

It is truly a relationship like no other on this earth. Your mother has a unique and special bond with you, regardless of your current relationship. She carried you inside her body for 9 months - you are a part of her.

And that bond that exists between mother and child (for most of us) is the closest thing to unconditional love that we experience from another human being. 

I am blessed to have an amazing mother who has supported, encouraged, and loved me for my whole life. I know that her love has helped to shape me into the person that I am today - and it is my life’s goal to provide that same level of love to my children.

I always feel like that saying “a face only a mother could love” is not quite enough - it should be “all the less-than-desirable” parts of us that our mothers know and yet they still choose to love us.

Today, I would encourage you to thank your mother for her love of you. She was not (and is not) a perfect mother - but she probably did the very best that she could do for you. If you are someone who did not have that kind of mother, it is my hope for you that you have someone else in your life who can act as a mother figure - someone who will love all the “less-than-desirable” parts of you too.

Recommended Book


May 01, 2018
ISBN: 9780345810564

Interesting Fact #1

There are roughly 82.5 million mothers in the United States, more than 2 billion worldwide and approximately 4.3 babies are born every second. About 2% of those US mothers have adopted.


Interesting Fact #2

The average Mom will have changed approximately 7,300 diapers by the time her baby reaches age two!


Interesting Fact #3

The heaviest human baby was born to Signora Carmelina Fedele in Aversa, Italy in September 1955. Her son weighed 22 pounds, 8 ounces!


Quote of the day

“When you are looking at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” —Charley Benetto

Article of the day - Motherhood is complicated

Motherhood is at once a relationship, a social construct, a full-time job and an identity. An estimated 85% of women have birthed a child (1), making motherhood, or at least the thought of it, a prevalent part of life for most women.

In popular culture, expectations of motherhood are often based on the ideologies of middle class white women. Mothers are often viewed as “competent” and “warm” and are admired for these traits (2). Mothers on TV and film sacrifice everything to nurture their child/ren. But this narrative isn’t representative of all types of mothers. Every experience of motherhood is unique, meaning something different to each person.

Let’s take a look at some of the more unconventional aspects of motherhood that you probably don’t see in the media. 

Motherhood isn’t always biological

It’s true that there is an intersection of motherhood with female biology. Human reproduction requires genetic material from a person with XX chromosomes and genetic material from a person with XY chromosomes to make an embryo (3). Certain anatomy and physiology is then required to maintain a pregnancy and birth a newborn (3). After birth, specific hormones influence how parents bond with their children (4). While certain biological processes are needed to create an infant, none of these processes are required to make a mother. 

Mothers earn the title in many ways that aren’t biological. The tasks and duties of mothers are often carried out by the people who didn’t physically create them. Around 10% of children are parented by their grandparents, and about 3% of children are parented by other family members (5). Over 100,000 children in the USA are adopted each year (6). About 16% of kids in the USA live with a stepparent, stepsibling, or half sibling (7). In the UK, almost 60,000 children live with foster parents who aren’t biologically related to them (8). Millions of children worldwide have been born using assisted reproductive technology, some of which includes the use of donor eggs and sperm (9). Men can be mothers, too (10). Transgender men and other gender non-conforming people can become pregnant and birth a child, and have many of the same parenting desires as cisgender mothers (11).

Motherhood requires love and a dedication to be responsible for a child — most moms will tell you that the origin of a child’s DNA is not important.

Not every woman wants to be a mother

Some people simply don’t feel a pull toward motherhood. Others want to focus on other priorities. Academic achievement and participation in the workforce are two of the main reasons why women choose not to become a mother (12, 13). About 13% of women who are childless by ages 40-44 report that the decision was voluntary (14). In all age groups, about 6% of women are voluntarily childless (1). Motherhood just isn’t for everyone and although being childfree by choice can be empowering, childfree people are often viewed as selfish or materialistic and stigmatized for their choice (2).

For women who are mothers, maternal regret is a taboo subject, but it’s important to know that some women regret their choice to become a parent. Some women find the path to motherhood without their consent, either through rape, coercion, or lack of access to abortion. Other women who willingly pursue motherhood grow to regret their choice when they find the social promises of motherhood are unfulfilled (15).

Not every woman is able to be a mother

Some people make the purposeful choice to opt-in to motherhood, but they find themselves unable to become a parent or maintain parenthood. This can occur due to inability to conceive, death of a child, loss of stepchildren to divorce, loss of custody, and loss of ability to parent. It’s hard to find up-to-date data, but one estimate from 2002 suggested that about 3% of all women were involuntarily childless (16).

Data likely poorly reflects how many women and people with cycles want to be parents but cannot be, for whatever reason. We do know that roughly 1 in 100 fetuses die from stillbirth (17) and an estimated 186 million people worldwide live with infertility (18). For political, financial, and environmental reasons, some people feel becoming a parent is impossible. Unemployment, underemployment, and unstable housing leaves many people delaying the transition to parenthood or avoiding it altogether (19).

Making space for mothers

There are many paths to motherhood, and none of them are smooth. The transition to motherhood is a beautiful, transformative time for some people, but for about 20-25% of women, perinatal depression and other mood disorders make pregnancy and postpartum a scary and threatening time (20). Traditional gender roles and gender inequities make motherhood difficult (and cause some people to delay or avoid motherhood) (19). In the USA and UK, systemic racism within the obstetric system means that Black mothers have higher rates of complications during and after pregnancy, including death (21). In the USA, pregnancy-related death is at least three times higher for Black, Native American, and Alaska Native women (22). Globally, migrant and ethnic minority women are less likely to experience optimal maternal care (23).

Although mothers need social support from their friends, families, and communities (24), busy schedules and lack of structured support systems leaves many mothers without the necessary support. When mothers are well supported, they are less likely to experience postpartum depression (25), and more likely to stop the intergenerational cycle of child abuse (26). Infants of well supported mothers are more likely to meet cognitive developmental milestones (27). 

Celebrating moms comes down to a lot more than sending cards on Mother’s Day. Making space for mothers includes policy change that makes the path to parenthood less dangerous, including legislation to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. Motherhood should be less financially dangerous, as well. The financial costs of motherhood include lost wages and lost retirement in addition to childcare costs. It also includes making space for mothers of all genders —LGBTQ parents are underrepresented in the current dialogue that surrounds mothering (28).

The motherhood narrative that says all mothers are ready and able to sacrifice everything for their children isn’t inclusive of people who have varying needs and desires. Changing how we talk about motherhood can make space for all moms —  the moms who choose not to breastfeed, the moms who are depressed, the moms who had scary pregnancies, the moms who don’t have partners, and the moms who are moms even though it wasn’t really their choice. Motherhood is never easy, or simple, and while it’s hard to make sense of all of its complexities, making space for all moms can make the path a little bit easier.


  1. Martinez GM, Daniels K, Febo-Vazquez I. Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15-44 in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth, 2011-2015. Natl Health Stat Report. 2018 Jul;(113):1–17.
  2. Bays A. Perceptions, Emotions, and Behaviors toward Women Based on Parental Status. Sex Roles. 2017 Feb;76(3–4):138–55
  3. Cunningham FG, editor. Williams obstetrics. 25th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2018. P 89.
  4. Scatliffe N, Casavant S, Vittner D, Cong X. Oxytocin and early parent-infant interactions: A systematic review. Int J Nurs Sci. 2019;6(4):445-453. Published 2019 Sep 12. doi:10.1016/j.ijnss.2019.09.009
  5. AARP Foundation. GrandFacts: National fact sheet for grandparents and other relatives raising children [Internet]. 2020. Available from:
  6. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Trends in U.S. Adoptions: 2008–2012 [Internet]. 2012. Available from:
  7. Pew Research Center. Parenting in America [Internet]. 2015. Available from:
  8. CoramBAAF-Adoption and Fostering Academy . Statistics:England. [Internet]. 2020. Available from :,partnership%2C%20married%20or%20neither
  9. International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technology (ICMART):, de Mouzon J, Lancaster P, Nygren KG, Sullivan E, Zegers-Hochschild F, Mansour R, Ishihara O, Adamson D. World collaborative report on assisted reproductive technology, 2002. Human Reproduction. 2009 Sep 1;24(9):2310-20.
  10. Obedin-Maliver J, Makadon HJ. Transgender men and pregnancy. Obstet Med. 2016 Mar;9(1):4–8.
  11. Hoffkling A, Obedin-Maliver J, Sevelius J. From erasure to opportunity: a qualitative study of the experiences of transgender men around pregnancy and recommendations for providers. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2017 Nov;17(S2):332.
  12. Lundquist, J. H., Budig, M. J., & Curtis, A. (2009). Race and childlessness in America, 1988–2002. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 741–755.
  13. Gubernskaya, Z. (2010). Changing attitudes toward marriage and children in six countries. Sociological Perspectives, 53, 179–200.
  14. Pew Research Center. Childlessness [Internet]. 2015. Available from:
  15. Donath O. Regretting Motherhood: A Sociopolitical Analysis. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 2015 Jan;40(2):343–67.
  16. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Fertility, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health of U.S. Women: Data From the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth [ Internet]. 2005. Available from :
  17. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pregnancy and Infant Loss [Internet]. 2020. Available from :
  18. World Health Organization (WHO). Infertility [Internet]. 2020. Available from:
  19. Mills M, Rindfuss RR, McDonald P, te Velde E, on behalf of the ESHRE Reproduction and Society Task Force. Why do people postpone parenthood? Reasons and social policy incentives. Human Reproduction Update. 2011 Nov 1;17(6):848–60.
  20. National and Perinatal Association. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders [Internet]. 2018. Avaiable from:
  21. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Racial and Ethnic Disparities Continue in Pregnancy-Related Deaths [Internet].2019. Avaiable from:
  22. Anekwe L. Ethnic disparities in maternal care. BMJ. 2020 Feb 12;m442.
  23. De Freitas C, Massag J, Amorim M, Fraga S. Involvement in maternal care by migrants and ethnic minorities: a narrative review. Public Health Rev. 2020 Dec;41(1):5.
  24. Borjesson B, Paperin C, Lindell M. Maternal support during the first year of infancy. J Adv Nurs. 2004 Mar;45(6):588–94.
  25. Tani F, Castagna V. Maternal social support, quality of birth experience, and post-partum depression in primiparous women. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. 2017 Mar 19;30(6):689–92.
  26. Tracy M, Salo M, Appleton AA. The mitigating effects of maternal social support and paternal involvement on the intergenerational transmission of violence. Child Abuse Negl. 2018 Apr;78:46-59
  27. Shin EK, LeWinn K, Bush N, Tylavsky FA, Davis RL, Shaban-Nejad A. Association of Maternal Social Relationships With Cognitive Development in Early Childhood. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Jan 11;2(1):e186963.
  28. Darwin Z, Greenfield M. Mothers and others: The invisibility of LGBTQ people in reproductive and infant psychology. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology. 2019 Aug 8;37(4):341–3.

Question of the day - What is/was your mother’s best trait?

Immediate Family Relations

What is/was your mother’s best trait?