n South African Journal of Education - A narrative analysis of educators' lived experiences of motherhood and teaching

Volume 29, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



In this article we argue that mothers often construct images of what they perceive as society's expectations of them. These images become the parametersin the eyes of society to which they aspire. This is reminiscent of the adage : "I am not who you think I am. I am not who I think I am. I am who I think you think I am". This study is based on analysis of the life-stories of four professional female educators. These mother-educators shared their assumptions, cultural values and beliefs and showed how these shaped the subjective construction and harmonisation of the multiple roles of mother and educator. It was found that they often find themselves faced with the conflicting and complementary dimensions of the multiple roles of mother and professional. We contend that these mothers set high standards and expectations for themselves as mother-educator and they worry about failing, not only themselves, but also 'others'. They see the world of work, including parents, educators and school principal, as being against them - which is possibly a manifestation of a faltering self-image and linked to feelings of inadequacy. It is argued that mother educators need to negotiate new meaning in terms of their own perceived multiple role expectations so as to enable them to experience success as both homemakers and professionals. The challenge for the mother then is to engage in a constant search for her own identity.

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