What Makes a Mother?

What makes a mother?

Surely not her womanhood, nor her sagging breasts from feeding your infant carcass. It is not her uterus, nor her birth canal, nor the hours in labor she spent birthing you. These are simply facts; requirements of the primal mind for a successful life and family line.

A mother is more than the evolved process of pregnancy, morning sickness, Lamaze classes, and sanitized hospital labor. She is more than the natural, the water, and the cesarean.

She is someone who is flawed, just as you are. She claims to love you–whether or not that is true is still to be determined. She hangs over your soul, claiming ownership of you. She is weary from everything you’ve done for yourself; it is just as hard on her, can’t you see that?

No. A mother is more than a title; it is an essence. To be a mother you must encompass motherhood. You must embrace your offspring as individuals and celebrate their personalities as they emerge. You do not get to take credit; these beings you donated chromosomes to were always going to be themselves.

I do not have a mother.

My birther did just that and nothing more. I was never hers to own and yet–I am owned. Severing relationships with fake mothers/genetic sponsors/bestowers of life/whatever they insist on titling themselves is to cut the umbilical cord like they did for you; a requirement. One cannot survive with this tether to something that is wholly not you.

What makes a mother?

A mother is a figure: a creation and a title that we ourselves assign to a person we have decided is deserving of that title. A mother does not need to be a birther, for they are not mutually exclusive. A mother does not need to have sagging breasts that nurtured your neonate personhood, nor does she need the bodily scars from carrying and creating you.

She is someone who accepts; whatever person you are is the person she loves. Your achievements are yours and yours alone; she will cheer from the stands and encourage your passions. To be a mother is to love unconditionally and not expect a valiant sidekick to unconditionally be on your side. A mother does not take credit; she is in charge of the watering and fertilizing until you blossom.

A mother does more than the minimum, for there is no such thing as minimum motherhood.

I still do not have a mother. So I am forced to ask:

Is a mother really necessary?

I have lived my life without one. My birther tries to claim the role of mother and smother me in contrived I love yous. She touts me around like a trophy: so proud! social media blessings without an actual conversation with myself.


A daughter who is successful!


A daughter who is nothing like me!


I did not raise my child but look at her accomplishments!

Look at her as though she is me!

I wonder what she thinks gives her the right.

A birther is not given the right to a place in a life she helped create. Mother Nature does not require motherhood of birthers in the wild.

A mother earns that right.

I often worry: what happens when I become a birther? Will I move on and adapt to become a mother? If a birther can so easily shirk their transition into motherhood, does it not follow that her spawn may have this inclination as well?


I am not like my birther. Shared chromosomes put me in a test tube and erase my humanity–I will not stand for this lump sum assumption. I have carved my own way and pushed through barricades; I alone have done this. I made decisions and found my passions through trial and error. A mother should have been there to facilitate this, sure

but a mother is not necessary.



do not
it didn’t happen

there is leftover

it was replaced
stretch marks
a different


it happened.

and you
are still




In this
keenly aware of
the food stuck in my
my breasts
on top of my
a second chin and
neck fat

in this

am not here.


Sierra Rittue is a writer originally from the Bay Area, currently living in Madison, WI. You can find her on Twitter @unsavorywench.