Is Motherhood Your Greatest Accomplishment?

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
5:30 pm
03/15/16

The topic of motherhood is obviously a loaded one, seemingly now so more than ever. Is motherhood a job? Is it an accomplishment? Does it give a person purpose? At a quick glance, we think most mothers would say, “Yes, yes, and yes.” However, when a woman goes a step further and calls motherhood her greatest accomplishment or only purpose, that’s when the internet shitstorm really starts. Especially when the women making these grand statements are pretty damn grand themselves.

If you’ve been following headlines of late, you know we’re talking about the award-laden and unquestionably mega-talented stars Adele and Beyoncé. The conversation and topic isn’t exactly a new one, but it’s started to come to a head after Adele told Vogue, in its March issue, that “When I became a parent, I felt like I was truly living. I had a purpose, where before I didn’t.” Now, follow that up with Beyoncé’s latest proclamation in Garage Magazine that, “Out of everything I’ve accomplished, my proudest moment hands down was when I gave birth to my daughter Blue.”

Again, lots of mothers will nod their heads vigorously. They totally get where Adele and Beyoncé are coming from and maybe don’t understand all the fuss. On the flipside, we can see the slippery slope of naming your child an “accomplishment” (note that Beyoncé said that giving birth was her accomplishment, not necessarily Blue Ivy herself). If you count your children as an accomplishment, does that mean that their blunders and failures are also your own? Where do your own accomplishments (and failures) end and your child’s begin? Is your child herself or the act of parenting an accomplishment even if your kids go on to disappoint you? An accomplishment, after all, is defined as “something that has been achieved successfully” in addition to “an activity that a person can do well,” which makes the word itself a bit murky, especially when applied to parenting and kids.

In the same vein, Adele’s quote about finding purpose only after having her son Angelo seems unthinkable, given her insane talent, many accolades, and great ambition all showcased well before she became a mother. The remark, which is made in varying degrees by less famous in less public settings all the time, can also seem like a slap in the face to people without children or who are trying to have children. Explaining that you are only “truly living” or have found “purpose” once you have a child might sound down-right offensive (and a bit disconnected), even if one is simply recounting her own unique experience.

Of course, it might be the quantification of purpose and accomplishment that is tripping some of us up. Like picking a favorite color (or favorite child), do we really need to rank motherhood within our life’s many accomplishments and purposes? Life often tends to hold more meaning once one has a child. Motherhood becomes an additional purpose in life, if not our sole purpose. And putting in the hard work of parenting when it seems to yield a successful outcome might be seen as one of our many accomplishments. All the while, others might completely concur with Adele’s (and Beyoncé’s) statements, no matter how the words are minced.

We want to know your opinion: Do you consider motherhood your greatest accomplishment? (Or one of your accomplishments?) Is it your highest purpose? (Or one of your life’s purposes?) Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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