Without children, we are free to help others in need

Once again the news is full of smashed buildings, dead children and adults, workers searching through rubble, and families left homeless. This time it’s a tornado in Oklahoma. I can’t believe this keeps happening. Must we have a disaster every month? It’s not just here in the United States. They’re happening all over the world. Some, like the Boston bombings, are man-made. Others, like the tornado and Hurricane Sandy, are deemed by the insurance companies as acts of God. One religious Facebook friend suggested these are signs that the end of the world is coming. Maybe, maybe not.

If you believe in praying, please offer prayers for those suffering from the tornado and other disasters. Come to think of it, that’s what nuns and priests do. These Catholic women and men who give up marriage and children to devote their lives to God use their parenting energy to pray and to offer practical help wherever it’s needed. We don’t have to be nuns or priests to do the same.
And here’s where I make this relate to being childless. In situations where children are dying, we can be selfishly grateful that none of them are ours, that we will never know the heartbreak of losing a child to whom we gave birth. Beyond that, because we don’t have children of our own to care for, we are free to help others who do. We can be that extra set of hands so needed by parents overwhelmed by big disasters or the little challenges of daily life.We can pray, we can babysit, we can send money to Red Cross, we can bandage wounds or help dig through the rubble.
It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves because we don’t have children. We can waste our days blaming our partners or God for how things turned out. Or we can appreciate the children of the world as mothers and fathers at large, and when we see a need, we can step forward and ask, “Can I help?”
Do you agree?

In some ways, we’re all mothers

I stop at a grocery store in Yreka, California to buy something for breakfast. At the cash register, the young man ahead of me gasps in relief as he dumps an armload of cantaloupes onto the conveyor belt. The cashier quickly rings them up. $10.70. “Dang,” he says. He only has a wrinkled ten-dollar bill. In the pregnant pause, I whip a dollar bill out of my wallet. “Here,” I say. The checker takes it, gives me 30 cents change. The kid mumbles “thanks” and moves on. The checker also says, “Thanks.” I feel like a mom, quickly seeing the problem and jumping in to help. Who’s to know I’m not a mother, that my kids don’t go to school with this kid? I walk out feeling happy.
Speaking of kids with problems, I just finished reading Debra Gwartney’s Live Through This. It’s the painful story of how her two oldest daughters became more and more out of control. Drugs, suicide attempts and nights when they didn’t come home led to their running way and living on the streets for long periods of time while their mom went crazy trying to find them, hoping they weren’t dead. I would hope that any of us, mothers or not, would do what we can to help any kid in trouble. As women, I think we’re all mothers at large. When we can, we should help, whether it’s a runaway who needs something to eat or a teenager who’s short 70 cents at the grocery store.

Can you think of times you have acted as a mother for someone else’s child?