by Sarah Earlene Shere, ©2023 

(May 21, 2023) — Two months ago I had no idea I’d be rocking in my chair, singing a lullaby to a warm bundle held in my arms. No, I don’t have a baby, nor do I feel the desire for one. My bundle of joy is my newly adopted, nearly 3 year-old, dachshund-mix dog, Mickey.

No, I didn’t want a baby. Little did I know how much of a motherly burden I would feel with a “special needs” dog, nor did I know the joys of such. Mickey is clingy and needy, and I love it! But, like any mother, I struggle with the feelings that I’m doing things wrong, especially as he deals with stress and anxiety. At times I feel like a failure, like things are my fault. I just want him to be healthy and happy. I try to be so patient with him, but, when I know he knows better, I have trouble not losing my temper.

When I express these feelings to my mother she smiles and nods with a knowing expression. Okay, so, against my wishes, I’ve become a “dog mom”.

This experience has only solidified that I don’t think I could handle being a “real” mom. I’m so blessed that I do not have the desire to have children; I am so sorry for the women that do have that unfulfilled longing. But I have to admit, it’s been a lovely, surreal feeling to have my mother (as she watches my interactions with my “puppy”) tell me that I’m a wonderful mother!

This experience also reminds me that we, as women, were built with an internal instinct to nurture and love. No, not every woman is a mother, or meant to be so; not every mother is a good mother, and no mother is perfect. But we are all made in God’s image, and He is the nurturer and caregiver of all; God is love itself!

Last Sunday we celebrated mothers. And, while we typically think of the ideal raiser of her own birthed children, let us remember to honor all women who carry the burdens of motherhood. They may be caring for the children of others through daycare, Sunday school or foster parenting; they may be feeling sleep deprived while rocking anxious puppies in their arms; they may be mentoring, counseling or advising “children” older than themselves; they me be providing physical care or lifting others up in prayers through long distances.

Whatever the case, in a world that praises the independent, career-driven woman, remember to celebrate and praise the nature of nurture, wherever it may be found.

And for those of us who do not feel called to motherhood, and those with the unfulfilled longing to be a mother, take comfort in the scriptures (Isaiah 54:1-6):

“Sing, O barren one, you who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who did not travail with child! For the [spiritual] children of the desolate one will be more than the children of the married wife, says the Lord.

“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes,

“For you will spread abroad to the right hand and to the left; and your offspring will possess the nations and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

“Fear not, for you shall not be ashamed; neither be confounded and depressed, for you shall not be put to shame. For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall not [seriously] remember the reproach of your widowhood any more.

“For your Maker is your Husband—the Lord of hosts is His name—and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth He is called.

“For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken, grieved in spirit, and heartsore—even a wife [wooed and won] in youth, when she is [later] refused and scorned, says your God.”

Blessings to all those who “mother” with sacrifice and love, and bless all who look to God for that nurturing and care!

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