Sacrifice, discipline, responsibilities are all words associated with motherhood and mother-care. From menarche, the young woman is instructed to keep herself well to be able to mother children. As soon as she marries and takes in, she is instructed on what to eat, and other things that will ensure the well-being of the unborn child. When in the labour room, there are things to do. She must cooperate with the midwives to ease delivery. With the birth of the baby, the real work begins. The young mother must learn and apply the know-how of mother-care. Clothing and cleaning the child is not taken for granted. Over-clothing the child is avoided to prevent cold and infection.

Appropriate and timely changing of diapers must be learnt and practiced. As the child develops, a time comes to wean him and introduce him to solid food. Doing this is an art the mother must learn and carefully practice. She is, of course, taught by instinct to be observant. She carefully checks the responses of the baby to be sure his senses are not impaired. She would want to verify if the child can hear, see and feed well. What about the muscles and bones? Can he sit, crawl and stand? Each stage of the child’s development demands adequate assistance to avoid accident that may cause him untold damage. As a toddler, he often has his paths cleared of dangerous objects to protect him from harm.

Now that he’s trying to talk, the mother watches and guides his speech from babbling to phrasing. Mother teaches him his first syllables. How a mother needs to be careful to avoid the use of indecent words! How a mother needs to learn to smile, talk and sing to the child! Soon, he attains school age. Mother, with father’s permission, decides on the most appropriate school. Being a virtuous woman, she would never neglect her motherly duties, knowing full well that no other person can provide all the love and care her child needs. She would want to play some role in her child’s education providing home lessons to complement teachers’ efforts. That was what helped Thomas Edison overcome his dullness. His mother picked him up and taught him well when his teachers had written him off. He later invented the electric bulb!

Successful mothers are not born; they are made. Women who realize their unique position and nature as God’s hallowed vessels of reproduction choose to learn and practice mothering. They read books, watch successful mothers at work, stay fit and sober, live tough and wisely to acquire the skills required to excel in childcare and mothering.

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