This amazing mother-daughter mask created by Salish Sea* artists Janice Morin and Randy Stiglitz got me thinking again about Mother’s Day.

My favorite photo of me and mom

I’m bucking the trend of banning words. Instead, I’d like to expand the word Mother to Mothering. The Cambridge Dictionary somewhat broadens the definition for me: The process of caring for people in a way that a mother does. This second definition, in my mind, is far more inclusive especially on May 8th – Mother’s Day. This doesn’t mean moms aren’t due a thank you but what about all of the other mothering that goes on unheralded?

Don’t women who aren’t “birthing persons,” as we are now advised to call them, qualify as mothering their pets? Of course, it’s not exactly the same, but with a pet there is the inevitable end date, unlike how we think of children who will hopefully outlast their parents. What about mothering their own mothers and fathers? Women are the ones we consistently turn to when aging parents need help. How about mothering friends? And as caregivers—both professional and private? It takes a similar measure of patience, love, and commitment no matter who or what you’re mothering.

Isn’t a single father, raising children, mothering and fathering them? If there were such a thing as Fathering Day, this guy would be deserving of more than a card.

In fact, the number of single fathers raising children in the U.S. is on the rise. Single fathers make up 19.6% of single-parent families. According to Single Parent Magazine, the number of single fathers has increased by 60% in the last ten years, and is one of the fastest growing family situations. The declining but still high divorce rate is the primary element, but most recently same-sex marriage and parenting has played a role in the rise of single parenthood among men.

As the owl family reflects, many species share in the mothering of their unhatched and young. And the great egret co-parenting arrangement is somehow reassuring that nurturing the young of any specie involves mothering (and fathering).

But back to mothering and this remarkable carving by Salish Sea* artist Jacob Joe. I leave you with “Woman who took on the sorrows of the world so that we all could be happy” mask. If that’s not mothering, I don’t know what is.

*A note about the Coast Salish. Coast Salish refers to a cultural and ethnographic designation of a subgroup of the First Nations or Native American cultures in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon who speak one of the Coast Salish languages. Coast Salish languages are part of the Salishan language family but there is no one language or people named Coast Salish.

My thanks to Forest Gems in Port Townsend, WA for contributing to this post. If you would like to learn more about the two masks above, go to:


Photo credits: Mothering – Richard Brutyo, Fathering – Juliane Liebermann, Owl family – thijs-schouten, Great egrets (used with permission) – Joan Robins at