Construction of Identity

As Dhar (1952) had pointed out that an ideal mother is one who brings forth in her consciousness of purity and self sacrifice and that flow of divine bliss which lulls the whole creation in her lap. An ideal mother is a woman who brings to life a child whom she will rear, take care of, and love for the rest of her life. 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