Biological mothers have a natural bond which sadly some manage to break. At the end of the day, motherhood in its purest essence, elicits the heartfelt response, ‘Her children arise and call her blessed?’ (Prov. 31:28) This is precisely why ‘mothers’ who have never given birth are so special.
The sand goby is a European fish known for eating it’s young. At least that’s what happens a bit more often when the father ends up responsible for care of the little ones. Fascinating really; creepy too. But let’s not read too much into this from the human standpoint. Actually, several species of animals do cannibalize their young. They drop them off somewhere and go about their own business. The message simply is, “Go fend for yourselves. I’ll be back. If I meet you, I’ll eat you!”
Translated into English, it sounds something like this, “I brought you into this world – and I can take you out!” Fortunately, most mothers making such utterances are only guilty of extreme frustration and exasperation with a wayward or hard-headed child. In fact, these are the very same mothers, if their child stands accused of the most heinous and clear-cut of crimes, would bawl bitterly to the media, “My son would never ever do something like this. He wasn’t even there!”
Indeed, Oprah Winfrey declared, “Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” Motherhood equals nurturing. In most cases, cannibalistic animals do not have breasts to suckle. No surprise therefore that they have no word in their vocabulary for nurturing. Back in the day when I was in hunt for a wife, I made it clear the one thing that was non-negotiable: the matter of breast feeding. The medical and emotional benefits to the baby were simply too overwhelming to trifle with.
For whatever reason, one is hard-pressed to find mothers who never bore a child using such language. Their station in life often is not by choice. They may have been unlucky in love, devoted to religious ministry, early widowed or abandoned. Because they have ‘neither a chick nor a child,’ they automatically become the go-to member of the family to take care orphaned or neglected nieces, nephews or neighbours’ kids. This is on top of being the one expected to take care of aging parents because, well, everyone else busy with their own ‘family responsibilities.’
To add insult to injury, these single nurturers are sometimes looked upon with a certain disdain. People may perceive them as being selfish, thinking themselves too good for men who came courting. The truth is that some of these women may have been victims of unspeakable abuse or had to take over the parenting role for younger sibs. Yet they have poured all their surplus energies into charitable undertakings for the less fortunate. Some of them may be suffering medical conditions like fibroids (an upcoming topic on SPARKLE). One confided she experienced prolonged painful periods requiring not only iron supplements but even transfusions. She actually went into contractions as her womb attempted to deliver this large growth within her and had no choice about eventual total hysterectomy.
Reflect on this as Mother’s day passes our way once again. Many less deserving biological mothers, are pampered and honoured on this occasion – as so they should be. Is it possible that today you may have overlooked one of those adoptive mothers or‘everybody’s aunties?’ Oh, consider male nurturers as well who have to be father and mother as well – they are taken for granted even more! Remember the prayer rising from their non-traditional hearts that make them blessed indeed:
“Not flesh of my flesh.
Not bone of my bone. But still miraculously my own.
And never forget for a minute.
You were not born under my heart.
You were born in my heart.” (Anonymous)
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Thanks for the rose, Dr. Sam. Yours was the only one I got.
Every weekend when I go on DNO, I go straight to your article. You have a rich style of writing. It always leaves me with something to think about. It always leaves me feeling good – most times anyway.
Everything you said is so true. I feel like I was waiting for this article all my adult life. Doctor, you made me feel right about who I am and what I am called to do.
Thank God, Dr. Sam, you took the time to recognize what people like us go through every year at this time. You gave me a confirmation. I claim it. Keep on doing what you do to make our lives sparkle.
What a profound piece of work. So often people equate motherhood only with biology while some biological moms do not know the first thing about true motherhood. You have really captured the spirit of motherhood quite well and yours is a fitting tribute to all “mothers”.
Our church service on Saturday night would have been blessed to have had this as the homily instead of what was dished out to make aging moms feel guilty about having their children living with them.