This quote is a reminder to all my women friends, including those who do not have children, that most of us spend our lives nurturing, caring for, loving many to whom we did not give birth. There has long been the discussion of ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’ ~ are women innately ‘pre-programed’ to nurture, is it instinctual, triggered by hormones when giving birth? Or are we taught through social conditioning and expectation. I know many a ‘tom-boy’ who, though dolls were not their choice of toys, became wonderful moms, and many ‘childless’ women who lovingly raised adopted children, became exceptional teachers, mentors, aunts, cared for ailing friends, husbands, parents, women whose hearts are brimming with unconditional love.
But of course on Mother’s Day I reflect on the amazing women I know who have raised, or are raising, remarkable children. It is cliché to say, but it is the most difficult job, and hopefully the most rewarding. There are a dozen or so women I have had the honor of knowing throughout their motherhood ‘career’, from the beginning to the present, for there is no end, no matter how ‘grown-up’ and independent children become, even when they have grandchildren of their own, the role of mother is too personal, too deep in the heart and soul to ‘retire’ from, though there are moments when every mom I know was ready to change jobs!
As in the animal world, there are those for whom motherhood is not easy, those who have had to work a little harder. A mother hen or dog, or cow or goat, who seems to take their role of mothering lightly or abandons the idea all together is not that way through poor upbringing or not having a good role model mom themselves! It is an unsolved mystery why the instinct to nurture is stronger in some, no matter what the species. And of course good role models for mothering in the human species can impact how women carry out the job themselves, yet some of the best mom’s I know lacked that advantage.
As I write this a flock of cow birds land in the tree outside my window. A great example of giving ‘birth’ but not providing the nurturing! Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. Their young usually hatch first, get fed first, grow the largest, and at the expense of the off-spring of their ‘adopted’ mom, thrive while their nest mates die. Cow birds are despised for this seemingly neglectful behavior, abandoning their eggs, seeming to have no mothering instincts at all. But is that fair? Perhaps in a way that is difficult to understand, they do provide, their young do survive. Another of nature’s mysteries. We all know stories, or have first hand knowledge, of animal mom’s raising, even nursing, babes of other species. I had a male collie who knew exactly how to care for a tiny kitten, only days old, raising it, licking it after it was fed to stimulate its digestive system. Another mystery of nature and nurturing.
But there is no mystery to the wonder of motherhood!