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Women were created to nurture life. It’s written into our DNA.

At birth, a female infant contains the potential for future generations within her ovaries and the anatomy to sustain and protect a growing child in her womb and to nurse that child after birth.

Even with the natural endowments of the feminine genius, thankfully all women and mothers are uniquely gifted with their own strengths and weaknesses that contribute to their chosen paths.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a mom. But I also wanted to be a Broadway actress and quite possibly a nun. Seeing the Sound of Music in the theater when I was a little girl made quite an impression on me!

My mother always knew she wanted to marry and have lots of kids. My mom and her brother were raised by her father with the help of caring aunts. Her mother died in childbirth when mom was just a toddler.

Mom used to tell us stories of how she’d run home after school to prepare dinner for her family by the time she was in fourth grade.

When Mom died at almost 92 years old; she was predeceased by her husband of 62 years, had eight children (two predeceased her), 20 grandchildren, and 26 great-grandchildren.

She left a legacy of love.

I swapped my dreams of Broadway and the convent in exchange for marriage and family. The gifts of music and my spiritual life were never wasted. Both serve me well at home and at church and helped define my purpose.

Being a mom is one of the greatest gifts of my life. My children are my greatest contribution to this world. I think they are all pretty fabulous each in their own ways.

Motherhood helped me discover this innate desire to nurture life. Giving birth to a helpless human being can draw out the best in us and try our strength beyond what we can imagine. For me, it helped me grow out of my own selfish ways to discover how raising a child was a great contribution to and a hope for the future of this world and beyond.

This newly discovered nurturing nature somehow opened my heart to animal young as well. Our extended family has included puppies, kittens, guinea hens, and even once a baby crow which was abandoned by its mother.

To our delight, the crow would answer when we called him and come hopping up to the back door to be fed by hand. We finally re-homed him to a local nature center when the crow started sitting with us at our picnic table waiting for lunch to be served.

During our quarantine time, I started raising baby chicks- because doesn’t everybody? Turns out, yes, everybody is deciding to raise chickens as indicated by the booming industries of backyard chickens and the exponential growth of the local chicken keepers on Facebook.

So now, I’m a chicken mama and I don’t care.

I’m fascinated by birds. I enjoy the satisfaction of tucking my little chicks in for the night and peeking in on them while they sleep. Johanna enjoys cuddling baby chicks and laughing at their antics as they try to fly the coop (yes the brooder box is in the house).

We are reading all things chicken and getting outside to the garden and planning for the coop. The nesting boxes are on the outside to make it easier for Jo to collect the eggs to prepare them for breakfast and for sale to the neighbors. And I’m looking forward to natural pest control in our backyard.

I will always be a mom and for this gift, I am forever grateful.

To all my moms who are reading this, I hope you are sitting down with a cup of coffee or a mimosa enjoying some time for yourself.

Whether you are isolated from or surrounded by those you love, please know that you are needed and loved. The world is changed because you are in it and life will never be the same without you.

You are the heart of your home — even if your children have long moved away and have children of their own. It is your lap, your voice, your smile that deep down is the home of every adult and child you have nurtured into life.

To all mothers who grieve the loss of a child — we acknowledge your pain. It is a grief that never ends, yet your strength shows in every day you live and love.

My mom buried her husband and two of her daughters before she died. Just one month before she died she asked me, “Do you think I’m still alive because I’m going to lose another child before I die?”

I am certain that the heartbreak of those losses followed her into heaven where they were healed at the sight of her loved ones greeting her with open arms.

Mom nurtured all her children right up to the day she died. One of the last times I said goodbye to my mom, I was tucking her into bed as I got ready to leave.

Mom opened her eyes and said, “Honey, you have so much on your plate. Please, take care of yourself.”

When I’m tired and weary, I can still see her soft face and hear her sweet voice reminding me to take care of myself.

These days are trying on everyone — especially moms.

Many mothers are home — balancing work, teaching their kids, and figuring out how to protect their families and still pay the bills.

Some moms seem to have it all together and are embracing homesteading as if it were their destiny. Others are fighting depression and anxiety as everything we’ve known is changing around us. Most of us vacillate between the two.

Moms, please be encouraged. You do enough. You have enough. Don’t be hard on yourself.

You are enough.

You bear life and light to the world by just your being in it.

Happy Mother’s Day. You deserve it.

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Eileen Benthal
Eileen is a writer, speaker and wellness coach with a bachelor’s degree in theology from Franciscan University. She and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Email Eileen