What Does It Mean to Make a Person?

“We made a person.” Lucy stared at me incredulously, her blond hair a-wisp, her three-day-old baby nursing at her breast. We perched on her couch, as we might have done, sipping tea, chatting as old friends do—as we had done countless times, before she and her husband decided to…make a person.

Neither of us could quite understand it. What does it mean to make a person? And what did it mean now that Lucy was a mother?

The whole situation felt weird, just weird, as if she just gotten news that a wealthy relative had died, leaving her an elaborate estate on the far side of the moon. What could it possibly mean?

Creating a human may be the most profound thing we can ever do, and yet, this strange and philosophical question is largely absent in the cultural conversation around motherhood. Instead, we have endless debates about co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and breastfeeding, but the bare and haunting truth of a mother’s relationship to new human consciousness is lost beneath the noise of the world’s insistence that moms “get it right.”

So, I’m teaching a course called The Meaning of Motherhood at the Portland Underground Graduate School, which gives the mind-bending experience of creating a person the open, curious, honest reflection that it deserves.

This is the course for moms who aren’t sure what they think about babies. Here’s what to expect:

Week 1: The Birth of the Mother

In week 1, we’ll discuss the identity of motherhood and what it means to develop this new identity. What is lost, what is gained, and what does it mean to be a mother?

Week 2: A New Consciousness

In week 2, we’ll explore how this creation of life can raise bring up a deep sense of vulnerability, anxiety, and confusion about the meaning of mortality and human existence. Yeah, that’s right. We’re going to talk about death.

Week 3: Good Mom/Bad Mom

In week 3, we’ll explore, and challenge, some of the personal and cultural messages that we carry around that inform our judgments about what a good or bad mom is, and how these messages can impact the self-image and well-being of mothers.

Week 4: The Village

In week 4, we’ll explore the institutional and social supports, or lack thereof, in the form of family/maternity leave, child care, and norms around visitation, care, and community of motherhood. We’ll discuss ways that we may better support mothers, both at interpersonal and societal levels.

You’ll be able to commune with other moms, and grapple together with this strange new reality.

  • Thursdays, January 10, 17, 24, and 31st

  • 7-9 pm in SE Portland, OR.

Can’t wait until class to jump in? Check out part of the homework for Week 1: Watch Alexandra Sacks’ TED talk, in which she argues to reclaim the term “matresence,” the period of hormonal, physical, and emotional changes that characterize the transition to motherhood as a real thing, like adolescence.

The course fee is on a sliding scale, starting at $99, and you can sign up now for even less.

Register with the code WE<3TEACHERS to get 10% off!

Register with a friend and use code YOUVEGOTAFRIEND to get 25% off!

If you want the time and space to wrap your head around what it means to make a person, come connect, reflect, and join us.

Want to learn more about my work as a Philosophical Coach for moms? Check out my page for moms and contact me to learn more.


Danielle LaSusa Ph.D. is a Philosophical Coach and Consultant. She helps new moms grapple with what it means to make a person. She is the co-creater and co-host of Think Hard podcast, which brings fun, accessible, philosophical thinking to the real world.

© Copyright Danielle LaSusa PhD, LCC, 2018. All rights reserved.