I love dogs with all that I am but I had a problem with this term, fur baby, when it first became vogue. I am still not thrilled about it and I am reserved when I apply it to myself but others, who are critical, must understand it is a term borne of pain. For those of us who have not been blessed to have our own children must find ways to repurpose the endless well of love we have been given from our creator. Certain things happen within our beings that require our nurturing, loving souls to find a recipient to receive all that we must give. Even those who have had the awesome privilege to love a child as their very own find that they feel a deep loss when that child becomes independent.
I will speak of my own experience in an attempt to avoid causing offense or pain to another. My “furbabies” are dogs. I love them each with every inch of my being. I am deeply grateful for each dog I have had the honor of welcoming into my heart. I know God has placed each into my life for a very specific reason and I am convinced I would not be motivated to get out of bed if my dogs did not need my attention. They provide unconditional love, put up with my crabby moods, look at me as if I am the most amazing person to ever live, and they forgive…everything. They are marvelous creatures who know only loyalty, courage, and a depth of love humans have never achieved.
Does that mean my arms have stopped burning to hold a tiny child, who stares up at me in wonder and amazement? Has my heart stopped yearning to pour my love and devotion into my child? Daily, my ears strive to hear a little voice caress my soul with a single beloved word, “Mommy”. A small, chubby hand grasping mine to find safety and security or to lead me to his or her newest discovery will only ever happen through the love I lavish upon my niece and nephews. Thousands of spilt tears and hundreds of thousands more yet to fall for children I will never have, for those who belong to the ungrateful and undeserving, and for all who have been snuffed out before they were able to draw a single breath are added to the unseen ocean of grief. Dried up, useless breasts will never nourish my child as that time has long since passed. I believe that was the hardest day in my life, when I knew the possibility of cradling my baby in a fierce embrace was no longer possible.
I filled this void by working to fix other’s broken children. I advocated and protected other’s children from the evil of this world but my home was a tomb in its deafening silence until I was able to welcome a “furbaby” into my life. Over the years, my dogs were the only things that have come close to filling the void of an empty womb. I spoil my dogs rotten, I love them endlessly, and I consider them a permanent part of my family. We, who possess furbabies, have found an outlet to pour all the unused mothering and nurturing that eagerly sought a home, a soft place to land. Dogs only want to be loved and my heart needed to love them so it is a perfect match.
Naturally, I am describing all the soft, warm fuzzy parts of being a mother to a human child in the full knowledge that much heartache exists within that same glorious miracle. There is no sharper pain or deeper agony than that of a mother’s or father’s heart as she or he watch their child suffering without the ability to help. My words would never diminish the double edge sword that is the reality of becoming a parent to a human child. Traversing my descending years, I find myself more grateful than sorrowful that my only “children” have been of the canine variety. The only sorrow of welcoming a dog into one’s heart is the day you must say good-bye. I have had to say farewell too often to both the human and canine loves in my life. Yet, that is reality. Great love will always birth greater sorrow while branding you with the refusal to deny the opportunity to have had this miracle. As for me, I am grateful for the children, who I loved, but who will forget me. And for the “furbabies”, who never forgot me and whom I have woven into the strong heart and soul they helped protect and build, gratitude is not an adequate term.
Hence, if you lavish judgment like a fool or offer condemnation like an ass then I pray you will learn compassion and a degree of understanding that will enable you to look beyond your own walk upon this Earth. Yes, look beyond your own steps and glance to the left and right to see how your brother and sister stumbles, crawls, and grasps for the strength to claw their way forward in this unforgiving world. Look through Jesus’s eyes instead of your own to see the love keeping those struggling in pain and suffering moving forward.