Since the moment Eve first cuddled baby Cain in the Garden, mothers have developed a reputation as nurturers. In fact, it’s the odd non-nurturing mother who makes the news.

It seems as though most of us are hard-wired to care for others, cultivate relationships, and create a soft nest for those who need us. While science has long sought an explanation for what drives us, it might best be described as “female energy.” Where we choose to focus that energy at any given time in our lives depends largely upon circumstances.

For those who have children, every breathing moment in some way relates to taking care of them. From cleaning the kitchen sink to checking homework, we’re plugged into the needs of our progeny. Even going out for a walk in order to blow off steam is linked to wanting to be the best mother possible.

Of course, a nurturing disposition is in no way reserved for actual mothers. After all, Mother Teresa spent her entire adult life seeing to the needs of others without ever giving birth. Writers Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, and Harper Lee never had children, but they did produce great literature. No one calls actress Betty White "Mom", but she has poured her energy into saving countless unwanted pets. Great painters like Mary Cassatt and Frida Kahlo may never have actually given birth, but they have produced incredible pieces of art.

Whether a woman nurtures a child, piece of art, or musical talent, she puts everything she has into the effort. As it turns out, moms are remarkably flexible human beings.

Many a young mother has wondered if she could possibly love her next baby as much as the first, only to be surprised as her heart expands to accommodate all of her children. Perhaps that is the magic of womanhood. Our hearts seem to swell and overflow as needed. Whether it’s a friend in need or a stranger we meet crying on the subway platform, we’re drawn by compassion to help.

Every woman on the planet “mothers” someone or something. The love a mother lavishes upon her children may extend to her children’s friends, her career, causes she believes in, and the community around her. We certainly mother our friends, frequently putting their needs before our own, taking on their problems as though they are ours. In fact, scientists suspect that we live longer due to the powerful bonds we create with others.

The essence of mothering is giving, but they are gifts with dividends. That garden we so lovingly tended has produced a beautiful bouquet, the time we spent at the gym nurturing our bodies made us feel stronger, the kindness we showed neighbors showered us with a sense of belonging.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is a good time to recognize the myriad of ways women foster goodwill in the world around them, regardless of whether they have ever had a child of their own.

1 Response...

Kessie N. says:
May 4, 2013 at 9:51 PM
I love this!! Sniff, sniff!!
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