How can we use our mothering energy?

In a comment on a previous post, Elena said she wished she knew how to use her “mothering energy.” I wanted to flip out an easy answer about getting involved with kids at her church, a local school, or some kind of social program. But then I realized I would not feel comfortable doing any of these things. I have minimal experience being around children. I am utterly unprepared to teach or take care of them. I could learn, but the idea makes me nervous. I know, they’re just kids and I was one once, but I feel less qualified to work with children than I feel about the accounting job someone just suggested I apply for. At least I have been balancing checkbooks (sort of) for decades.

Mothers and others might find it difficult to believe that a woman could go through life spending almost no time with children, but it happens. It happened to me, and maybe it happened to you.

These days I lead singing with the children at our church on Wednesday nights. It’s fun, but another woman does all the talking and interacting with the kids. I just sing and play my guitar.

Some childless people have lots of kids around them. Maybe they come from big families where they took care of their siblings or they have nieces and nephews they adore. Some are teachers or work with kids in daycare or medicine or some other field. They’re using their mothering energy all the time. We could volunteer at church, school, or the children’s shelter to be around children, but if you don’t feel comfortable with that, I understand.

Let’s look at it another way. What is mothering? Beyond actually giving birth, it’s taking care of someone else. God knows we all need that, no matter how old we are. We can provide food for the poor, company for the lonely, help for anyone who needs it. And it doesn’t have to be human. We can take care of dogs. We can grow flowers or tomatoes.

And we can make things, using our creativity in so many ways, whether we write books, bake bread, make sculptures or program computers.

I know it’s not the same as having children, but moping about what we don’t have doesn’t help for long. Grieve for a while, admit that it sucks, then find some other way to use your motherly powers.

What are your thoughts on mothering energy?

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Sadie’s gone

This has to be short or I’ll start crying. We had to put our dog to sleep yesterday. Sadie’s cancer came out of remission and had reached the point where she was fighting to breathe. It was time to end the suffering. The actual dying was easy, thanks to a kind vet with wonderful shots that gave her her first restful sleep in months. It’s a cliche, but she looked so peaceful. The hard part is facing the empty house. I keep thinking I hear her, that I will see her around the corner, that I need to open the door for her. Last night as I started gathering her food, her pills, and her blankets, I realized this has to be what it’s like when you lose a child, your only child. Suddenly you don’t need all these things, and the center of your existence is gone. Are you still a mother anyway? Am I still a dog mom?
Now all I have to hug is a stuffed bear and a husband who can’t stop crying. It’s time to share my mothering energy with him. While Sadie was sick, I’m afraid I put her first every time, just as I’m sure I would have done with a child.
We will get another dog eventually, but she–or he–won’t be Sadie.