I have no children, but I am a mother. I have never conceived a child, yet still I am a mother. I hadn’t envisioned myself to be on the cusp of 33, single and managing a farm with livestock and a business on my own. I’ve always wanted to have children of my own, but I now realize that being a mother isn’t limited to humans raising humans.
As a farmer I’ve learned more about what it is like to have children than any health class in school can teach. I know about the pain of childbirth, and the heartbreaking losses during gestation and post-partum. Being the one to help and care for the goats through it all is something only experience can teach.
I have learned that sometimes, my goat ‘kids’ can’t produce enough milk, and bottle feeding is necessary. I’ve wiped snot from their noses with my bare hand and yes, had sh*t on my bare hands as well. I’ve loaded up on feed each week in order to meet their nutritional requirements while lactating. I’ve seen the rejection of a newborn from its mother because she knew or felt something that I didn’t, and I have heard and felt the heart wrenching cries of a mother who recently lost her baby and vice versa.
Perhaps it’s my neurodivergent brain, allowing me to feel their pain as if it was my own, I think of that as both a blessing and a curse.
I have bled with them, grieved with them, and celebrated life with them.
I have and always will, put their needs before my own. Worried about if they are eating enough or too much, did they get themselves into trouble. Questioned if I am doing enough to give them their best quality of life.
I have stood there, hamstrings tensed, lower back numb, holding a warm compress against an engorged udder whilst massaging it and reassuring the mother “it’s going to be okay.” I have never experienced that pain, but a part of me can feel it.
I have celebrated milestones with them. Chewing cud, having normal bowel movements, learning to eat hay and grass on their own or learning to walk after an injury. I’ve changed leaking diapers and stained onesies too many times to count. I’ve had many sleepless nights and early mornings, sometimes bringing them into bed with me to comfort them.
Because I am a mother.
Clearly my life hasn’t played out the way I thought it would, and I never imagined my kids would have four legs instead of two. But that’s the life the universe presented me with first.
And it has and always will be this way.
I may not be a mother in the way I thought I’d be, but, I am still a mom.
To every human yearning to be a mother, who has lost a child, has chosen to be a mother to four-legged fur-children or children with gills or feathers, if you are estranged from or have lost a mother, and to mother’s everywhere...
Happy Mother’s Day.
Motherhood looks different for everyone.