Happy Female-Identifying Caregiver of Children (and others who need us) Day


Friday was a weepy day.

A cat was hurt and struggling to breathe on the road next to the library. Sam and I slowed, pulled over, and I ran to check on the cat. Several other people stopped as well including an EMT. The cat was an exquisite cream color with a faintly striped tale and ice blue eyes. The cat (unsure if it was male or female) struggled for breath and mewed helplessly. We finally moved the cat out of the road and to the grass. Luckily, another person stopped — a veterinarian. He took the cat to his office to either heal or humanely euthanize. I cried. I cried watching the cat struggle and mew. So fragile and helpless.

That afternoon Sam and I were off work. We went to see the Amazing Spider-man 2. Towards the end of the movie there is a scene with a little boy in his Spider-man costume. He walks out to confront a really terrible bad guy. He was adorable, brave and reminded me of Atticus in his Spider-man costume. I cried. I cried watching that little boy stand up to something terrible.

After the movie we went to pick up the kids at daycare. I was showered with Mother’s Day gifts: cards, poems, tiny paint handprints, love. I thought of my kids and how much I love them. Then I thought about how much I love and how much I hate mother’s day. Maybe that is why I was weepy? I cannot explain how the cat connects to Mother’s Day except I felt love, worry, and helplessness staring at that cat struggling to breathe and I usually feel love, worry, and helplessness on a daily basis as a mother. And then life seemed super complicated, I had an existential crisis, and I realized Mother’s Day can suck for some women and I was even MORE weepy. Lemme try to explain:

Some may consider Mother’s Day a ploy to generate cash for businesses, and it can be, but I think Mother’s Day is important in that it underscores that caring for children is challenging and the women who care for children are engaging in valuable, rewarding work. However, I wish we could rename the holiday to “female-identifying caregiver of children (and others who need us)” day. Doesn’t really have the same ring to it. But if you aren’t a mother and  you love a child or long to care for a child or had a child who died this holiday can hurt. A deep aching reverberating painful hurt beating “loss loss loss” or “gone gone gone” or “never never never”.

And then there are the kids who have bad moms, or no mom, or a recently departed mom, or mom they have to mother. Perhaps it was an aunt, grandparent, older sister, teacher or even a warm soul they know later in live who has been the one to do the loving and caring we associate with mothers. Or maybe that whole mother-thing has been never happened for a kid and you’re still looking for your Molly Weasley. All this going on about the person who birthed you can make one feel worthless, unseen, and — yes — unloved.

Or maybe you’re a woman and you don’t ever want kids. You don’t want kids and you aren’t “getting your fill” through a caregiver job like being a teacher or a nurse. Whelp, I have news, being a mother is not the penultimate experience of womanhood. It doesn’t take having a full womb to equal satisfaction in life. Mother’s Day could possibly leave someone childless by choice feeling “less than” or misunderstood. And all the annoying comments about having kids from alllll those folks who know better. Ugh.

I have known women who battle infertility to no avail, who have a mother’s heart.

I have known women who have suffered miscarriages or the death of a child, they still have a mother’s heart.

I have known women who have adopted who have a mother’s heart.

I have known stepmothers who have a mother’s heart.

I have known mother’s who are labeled bad or don’t have their children and many of them still have a mother’s heart.

I have known teachers, aunts, cousins, sisters, grandmothers, godmothers and friends who have a mother’s heart.

I have known childless by choice women who have a mother’s heart.

So what makes a mother? What is at the crux of a mother’s heart.

Love, but not just any love. Complete, self-sacrificing fierce love. Love that cares and advocates children, the weak, the poor, the small, the fragile, and yes, even animals.


Here is a poem I am declaring fit for Happy Female-Identifying Caregiver of Children (and Others Who Need Us) Day:

If I can stop one heart

from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;


If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,


Or help one fainting robin,

Unto his nest again,


I shall not live in vain

~Emily Dickinson


Best wishes and thanks to all of you Female-Identifying Caregivers of Children (and Others who Need Us)!  You love and you love well, bless you.



  1. I have the shivers and have shed some tears reading this fabulous post. You have given me much to ponder!

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