She is a woman who, not only thinks of the welfare of her child, but also of others; a mother who is willing to sacrifice her own happiness, even her life, for the betterment of her child.
This concept of an ideal mother seems too good to be true. In the real world, motherhood has been interpreted in different ways. And these interpretations of being a mother also change as time goes by, as our society changes.
Since the nineteenth century up to the present, different figures of motherhood have been produced, each of a different context. These figures came about from the different social and political discourses in different times.
In a conservative political environment, the nation is being thought of as a family and it is believed that "mothers are constructed as the nation's and the family's moral guardian" (Woodward 1997:257). In this society, mothers are supposed to stay at home and just look after the children. Those who veer from this ideal are labeled immoral and unnatural. The society sees it unsafe if a mother shows any sign of independence such as earning a living or making her own lifestyle choices that she can afford.
The figure of a single mother has also been a subject of political debates in a contemporary society. Being a single mother is seen as a problem in the society. Peter Lilley, the Secretary of State for Social Security (cited by Woodward 1997: 259), even said that "widows and the divorced deserve not our blame but our support as 'deserving' single mothers. The 'undeserving' single mother is, however, classified as a problem, a woman who acts irresponsibly and is both a drain on society's economic resources and morally reprehensible." This negative representation of being a single mother was created within moral and political discourses, and single motherhood was deemed to be a personal choice as well as a moral deviation.
Women's magazines introduced new figures and identities of motherhood. These magazines give voice and identity to women, as well as different representations of motherhood. Women's magazines gave rise to the so-called "caring mother" and "working mother."
A "caring mother" is one who takes care of her own needs as well as of others. This "caring mother" is a modern version of the earlier "good mother" which is the product of the state's involvement into the family. This new "caring mother" is more of an expert in relationship which is an output of a market-based discourse on individualism.
A "working mother," on the other hand, is also labeled as a "returning woman" who is again joining the labour market as paid worker. This is the type of mother that past societies think as dangerous as she can be a threat to the men in the market. A "working mother" is the one who seeks some independence by earning a living, competes with others and seeks promotion to have a better career. This maternal identity is a big change from the