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Your Mother Has A Name: Redefining Our Perception of Motherhood In America

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

Recently, my mom told me she sometimes wished that I understood what it was like to be a mother. I didn’t know how to interpret her words but immediately thought of the various stereotypes of mothers from my hometown: the mother who dropped out of university to be a full-time mom, the overworked mother not helped by her partner, the teen mom who is judged by everyone, or the “perfect” mom who still faces discrimination for “trying too hard”. There was nothing wrong with this, but when these were the only thoughts that lingered in my mind, I felt thankful I wasn’t a mother. Why was I thankful? It was disheartening, because even if I’m young and not prepared to be a mother, there should be something positive with this thought, but the American stereotypes that society defines mothers by make them seem inhuman. So, maybe society needs to honor its mothers more than one day a year in May, but that’s not all there is to it. Does society see mothers past that role? Do YOU see mothers as an individual?

I love my mom and know that she’s her own person, but does everyone else?

I was forced to think of all the whys, whens, and hows of the way this came to be. We can start with how gender stereotypes can cause questions about how we define and teach society to perceive each other, starting with the person we came from, our mothers. Roles like the mother are constantly being reevaluated thanks to intersectional feminism which according to USA TODAY elevates “the understanding of how women’s overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.”

For many women in the 21st century, being recognized as a mother is a huge part of their identity. Recent 2023 government data from the Pew Research Center states that “about a third of moms say being a parent is the most important aspect of who they are.”

If this statistic of mothers claims this role is one of the most important parts of who they are, it’s no wonder why the way we view them can have a drastic effect on their mentality and attitudes. This disconnects a part of them that overlaps with the role of motherhood. Modern Media is a major contributor to America’s perspicuity with all the movies, books, and songs offering a wider look at the different expectations of mothers. Jenifer Lopez’s song,  “I Ain’t Your Mama” talks about a woman not wanting to fulfill the role of the mother and its attachments like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry for her boyfriend. She expresses wanting her partner to treat her like his equal and not “his mother”. 

But aren’t our mothers our equals? Why does this role erase them from personhood? Many people forget that before the mother, was the woman. Our definitions of the woman and the mother have been lost in translation so much so that it has become an issue in our definition of equality. There is a fine line between womanhood and motherhood, but nowadays women’s etiquette and stereotypes have gained presumptions for definite qualities that aren’t inherently natural because of civil and social ideologies. There are mothers who don’t identify with being a woman, families with two mothers, mothers who aren’t related by blood, and so many more that come into the equation now.

“Shattered: Modern Motherhood and the Illusion of Equality by Rebecca Asher – review” by The Guardian discusses how a loss of self in motherhood can cause unhappiness because a woman “ has lost the power of autonomy and free will in her own life”, and how “she is her body’s subject, her doctor’s subject, her baby’s subject, and in this biological work she has undertaken she becomes society’s and history’s subject too”.

With this loss of self, it’s no wonder that out of 82 million moms in America, half are unhappy. 

This isn’t a 21st-century issue. It’s been a problem since your mother, her mother, her mother’s mother, and so on have claimed the title of “mom”. In the 1970s, women reported less life satisfaction than men due to a lack of connections and social isolation from society isolation of them as mothers and not as individuals.

America has seen this exact loss of self throughout its history in the struggle for equality in the expression of sexual freedom, the right to education, and access to contraception. 

With recent events like the Supreme Court Ruling in 2022 declaring Roe v Wade unconstitutional, we have been forced to reevaluate how we value bodies that aren’t our own and how to approach reminding the public and the Supreme Court that a mother is also an individual. 

While motherhood doesn’t hold a key role in everyone’s lives, 82 million women have claimed the name “mom” and I bet a woman in your life has that name too. 

My mom has a name, Pamela.

She’s a sister. She’s a daughter. She’s a friend. She’s a hard worker. She’s a person.

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Remember your mom has a name too.

Resources for mothers and ways to get involved:

Mothering Justice:


National Maternal Mental Healthline:


Single Mother Grants and Assistance:

Planned Parenthood:


Resources for Moms and Moms-to-be:


BIPOC Women’s Health Network:

Abygail Pulido is a 2nd year at the University of Texas at Austin honing her craft for writing and pursuing her love for reading with a double major in English and Rhetorical Writing, she is also pursuing a certificate in Creative Writing. She is currently interning at the Harry Ransom Center in Visual Materials where she is learning about the curation process of exhibits and helping select class material. Abby's goal for her articles is to make academic and political topics digestable and fun to read. She loves Her Campus at Texas because its helped her to develop a voice and gain a connection with wonderful and diverse writers.