This is my first year as a mother.
It’s my first year as a dog mom, that is. When I got Coakley, I thought I would refrain from using parental language around being a pet owner, but then I became a pet parent. Because having a pet is very different than being, say, a plant owner; I feel no parental emotions around keeping my plants alive, though I care for them daily, but I do with Coakley. In trying to describe what I love so much about having Coakley in my life, I talked about her being my hiking buddy and the affection that she shows after a long day at church, but then I was able to express what might be most important: she reminds me who I am.
Because, coincidently, it’s also my first year of being “Mother Becca”. Sometimes people fumble with the title: what should one call a female priest? Sister? Mother? Father? I settled on what seemed most natural, and while it may change later in my vocation, at least for now, I am Mother Becca. And Coakley helps remind me that I am not only Mother Becca. She pulls me out of letting my work be the only thing that defines me or that I think about . . . because she is ready to go for a walk right now please thank you very much!
This Mother’s Day is also another first for me. During the Not Cancer surgery, part of what had to be done in the removal of the tumors was a complete hysterectomy. There was no choice, and there was no planning for it. So, while having children is not something that I desire deep within my soul, this Mother’s Day is surprisingly hard. Due to the complex nature of Not Cancer and the long healing process, I’m only now beginning to emotionally process some of the aspects of those two weeks spent at Vanderbilt back in the Fall. Healing and grief are almost always long, painful processes and I’ve only begun.
Perhaps someone referring to themselves as a “dog mom” is silly, and while being a mom to human children is hard, noble, and occasionally exhausting, so is life. No one sub-group of humanity is greater than another; we can’t compare our achievements or our downfalls to each other, presenting a laundry list of reasons others should appreciate or pity us. To do so would be futile, because being human is hard, and we’re all doing our best.
Most of my life, I have felt called to be a mother. Nurturing is something that comes naturally to me and gives me great joy. This Mother’s Day, while I am mourning the loss of my ability to bear children, I am absolutely reveling in the joy that is being a mom to Coakley and being Mother Becca. I am grateful that God has called me to this vocation of being who I am, where I am, and the gift of getting to love so many people as a Mother.