Caitlyn Jenner :: No Threat to Motherhood


Motherhood is a calling

We mamas are fierce protectors of our little ones, and many of us are also protective of the right to be called “Mommy.” But I’ve seen so much controversy over Caitlyn Jenner in the past couple of weeks that I’m here to say: Simmer down; she isn’t any more of a threat to your motherhood than any other parent on the planet.

Motherhood is a calling; and for now, Caitlyn isn’t being called to motherhood. However, if she feels that calling and her children wish to support it, it’s none of our business. If my son calls me “Jupiter” for a month, I am still his mother, and I will love him just the same. No one—not anyone—can change what motherhood means to me. My relationship with my son is much more than a word, a noun, a gender-specific title. Motherhood is a sense of being, and I have no right to judge who feels that calling. Motherhood is a beautiful part of life, and I can see the desire to participate. I’m not interested in kicking someone out of the club simply because she used to be a man. It is so important as parents that we deal with our issues and find out who we really are so we can parent effectively. I applaud Caitlyn’s desire to do both of those things, even at the risk of media hype, and if motherhood calls her, then motherhood can have her, regardless of who she was yesterday. If she decides to step up to the motherhood plate, I’ll admire the courage it takes to be a woman, a mother, and an amazing role model to her children.

Not all women who parent are “Mommy.” I have a wonderful lesbian friend who did not hear the call to motherhood, but who parents two beautiful twin boys as “Baba.” She identifies as a woman, parents her children with love and respect, but does not identify with the spirit of “Mommy.” It is disrespectful to female parents to insist they be called “Mommy,” or to not recognize their parenthood because they aren’t. Caitlyn Jenner identifies as a woman now, and her right to be a mother is part of the deal, if and when that’s what works for her and her children. She also has the right to remain “Dad.” The internal workings of each family dynamic are so complex that I’m shocked any of us even care what other children call their parents. That they call us anything at all is the whole objective, and there are many exemplary women who parent non-traditionally. Telling Caitlyn she can’t be a mother is the same as telling any other woman that she can’t either, or that as a woman who parents, you have to be “Mommy.” Being a biological female, or a transgender female, or even a closeted cross-dressing female is not what signifies motherhood. Genetics are only part of the equation. Motherhood is defined by:

  1. the state of being a mother.
  2. the qualities or spirit of a mother.

I love being a mother. It’s the absolute highest form of living I have experienced. It wasn’t a calling for me either, though, in the beginning, and I had to really work my way into a comfortable place as a woman, mother and wife. My son often calls me “Celeste,” and it’s  refreshing to hear him recognize me outside of my Mommy skin. But the spirit of motherhood is much larger: It’s made up of women all over the planet loving, feeding, playing with and caring for their children. It’s the look on a child’s face when his mother walks through the door after having been gone for any length of time. It’s pure love. Limiting this to what makes other parents comfortable is unacceptable. Limiting women to strict definitions of parenting and child rearing is disrespectful. This lovely and amazing experience is open to any woman who hears its calling, and for the women who don’t, you are just as wonderful and exceptional in your womanhood. The way one parent defines the essence of her parenting in no way threatens the essence of your own parenting. Caitlyn Jenner may remain “Dad,” or she may come to the calling of motherhood slowly, much as I did. She may also decide she is most comfortable using an alternate term. Luckily for her children, all that really matters is that she’s consistently showing up for them. Call it what you want.

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Celeste is a mother, wife, and photographer who describes herself a student of life. She has a deep love for world travel, books, and photos. Being an avid reader led her to the more tedious outlet of writing, especially after the life change of becoming a mom. Celeste studied Holisitic Nutrition and Psychology at Indiana University. She enjoys a healthy lifestyle and takes a holistic approach to raising her 4-year-old son, Memphis. After living in both London and Austin, she moved back home to Indiana to raise her son near his tribe and Midwestern values. She now works as a photographer here, capturing natural light lifestyle photos with an emphasis on children and the magic of being little.