The lovely Stephanie Gray has us rethinking terms this week:
Any woman who has never been pregnant is a mother-to-be. By virtue of our femininity, we women hold within us the potential for biological motherhood, but in the absence of conception, motherhood is a future possibility, not a present reality. “Mother-to-be” speaks of what is to come. “Mother” speaks of what is now. After all, “bride-to-be” indicates a woman isn’t yet a bride. Or, what would we call a student who’s going to be a lawyer one day, but is not one yet? A “lawyer-to-be.” So what would we call a woman who’s going to be a mother one day, but not a mother yet? A “mother-to-be.”
To be clear, then, a pregnant woman is not—I repeat: NOT—a mother-to-be. A pregnant woman is a mother. Birth does not endow motherhood. Fertilization does. When a woman becomes pregnant, her status is permanently changed. Whether her child survives or is miscarried, aborted, or adopted, her status as mother never disappears.
Andrea adds: I am a supporter of Stephanie and CCBR. That fact that I don’t like this article doesn’t alter that. But I don’t like this article/concept, nor do I find it to be particularly logical. Her main point is that pregnant women are not “mothers-to-be,” but rather, they are mothers. Yes, agreed. It does not follow then that all women are in point of fact, mothers to be. Ice is not water in waiting if it lives in Antarctica, to make an off the cuff comparison. If someone asks me if I’m single and I say, “No! I’m a ‘wife-to-be,'” they might (rightly) think I was off my rocker.
Claiming all women are “mothers-to-be” regardless of what they are right now detracts both from the women who are not mothers, and possibly from mothering itself.
Students of law are not lawyers in waiting. They might flunk out, or decide they prefer another career path. Anything can happen.
This concept might also be considered terribly insensitive to women who are infertile–desperately wanting to be mothers but finding for one reason or another that they can’t be. Who, in that circumstance, wants to be told they actually are a “mother-to-be”? Fan.Tas.Tic.
Finally, we can marvel at the new life created in the embryo, right at conception. We can and we should. We all started there. It’s an amazing miracle. But mothers (and aunties and uncles and good friends and grandparents) long to cradle their newborns in their arms and welcome them into the world. To see them. And we can’t pretend this is a distinction that doesn’t matter.
My two cents. I welcome the thoughts of others.by