From “Mother-er God,” May 12 sermon by Rev. Nate Klug
There is a word that certain feminist writers have been using it in their work, hoping that it will catch on.
The word is “Motherer.”
It’s mother…but with an extra “er” at the end.
And a motherer, is one who mothers.
Well, OK!, you might say.
But this new word, motherer, is meant to remind to us of a few things.
First of all, it makes “mother” into a verb, “to mother.”
This is meant to acknowledge that mothering is work.
It is labor… often unpaid, and unrecognized, in our society.
We are still the only industrialized nation not to guarantee its citizens paid parental leave.
And that still forces many women to choose for a time, between their careers and their kids.
But the word “motherer” also reminds us that mothering isn’t only labor or drudge work.
No, it is work that shapes another human being as they come into their own.
It is imaginative, playful, deeply creative kind of work.
The psychologist DW Winnicott tells the amazing story of how children learn how to be by themselves.
At first, of course, separation from our mothers for almost any period of time is agonizing.
We used to live inside them, after all!
But slowly, month by month, babies start to sit up and play. And crawl around and investigate.
And eventually they can create whole worlds out of their imagination.
But what Winnicott found, was that the initial phase of exploration, of starting to discover the world on your own…
it could only happen, if the baby was absolutely confident that their mother, or caretaker, was nearby…
Right close by, reading a book, or scrubbing dishes, or sending emails…
and peeking down the hall every minute or two to check in on them.
That’s how each of us learned to be individuals!
And as much as we like to think we’re independent and self-reliant…
Winnicott reminds us, that we only learned to be ourselves…
because of the presence of someone else.
And lastly, this new word, “motherer,” is meant to remind us that caring for someone else is a quality that we can all share.
Some of us had great relationships with our mothers. Some of us didn’t.
Some of us knew they always wanted to have children.
Some of us didn’t. Some of us haven’t been able to.
But a motherer can be anyone, anyone…
whose better self is brought out in the sacrificing of their own needs. In the act of nurturing.
And in that sense, it’s something we can all aspire to, regardless of our gender.