Happy Mother’s Day to all the women in my life. I want to make sure that it is clear that I am recognizing ALL women, even those who do not have human children, but who care for one, two, or even a barn full of four legged fur-children! You are just as much mothers as your friends who get extra hugs and kisses from their partners and human kiddos on Mother’s Day.
I recently turned 40 and lived life for 39 years without having a child. I might be mistaken, but throughout my entire adult life I found that fellow female friends with human children viewed me differently because I did not have children. Maybe they envied me as a single woman who had the “freedom” to do whatever I liked. Once I was married, I felt my “mom friends” thought I would finally be fulfilled as a woman once I had a child of my own. Again, my perception may have been wrong, but that’s how I felt which is what matters most.
It felt as if I was not a part of this mom club where other women could connect and discuss how exhausted they were for managing their households: keeping kids fed, clean, engaged with school, sports, and how to be decent human beings. Oftentimes my mom friends would say to me, “You’ll understand when you have kids.” As encouraging, loving and supporting all my friends are and were, especially before I had a child, I know there was no belittling or negativity meant by that statement. But I always laughed to myself and thought I didn’t need to have a human child to understand, I had horses!
I didn’t get married until I was 37. I started working when I was a Junior in high school. I worked all the way through college. I paid off my student loans, and I lived alone, without a roommate, post college once I could afford it. I paid my own bills and my own way. I didn’t have the luxury to lean on my parents to help me out if I had a slow commission month. With the challenges all young people face while trying to figure out how to pay for today’s expenses I also had my horse, Gage. My sister, Ashlee, gifted him to me as a graduation gift, but I had to work to keep him. I worked a full time job, a photography and art side hustle, and I fed horses and cleaned stalls to make sure his board was covered every month. And sometimes, three different ways to bring in income wasn’t always enough. I had to make sacrifices and went without a lot of “extras.”
When I found more stability and moved to a house with five acres and a barn I brought Gage home with me. Not only did I need to make sure every bill was paid every month, I also had to manage my horses’ daily care, find time to ride, and when I could trailer over for jump lessons. I was running from the time the sun came up, until 9, sometimes 10 pm at night. I was exhausted!
So why am I recapping the past, and how exactly does it relate to Mother’s Day? Easy! I was running ragged because my horses were my entire world. They fulfilled me in a way that I could not and cannot explain. They were my babies! And they still are!
I am a mom now, and while my husband comes first and our daughter comes right after our relationship, I don’t feel different. I don’t feel more accomplished. I don’t feel more exhausted. I learned a long time ago that I was a mom. My horses and dogs and cats taught me how to be a mother and a caregiver. My animals taught me how to hustle and do everything in my power to make sure they had the best life possible. They brought out my motherly instincts and refined them well before I had a daughter of my own.
Sometimes on social media I see other women comment that being a “fur mom” is nothing like being a “real mom.” To those who think that and have said that, YOU ARE WRONG!
My lady friends who do not have children, but manage 1200 pound animals, you are more than worthy of being considered a mom. You are the strongest group of women I know, and you do not have to have a human child to earn that badge. I see you struggle, I see you're exhausted, I see you don’t have time for yourself. I see you constantly questioning yourselves and asking “what is it all for?” I see you fight against a stigma that you are not enough as a woman without having a child. Guess what, you are!
So the entire month of May I celebrate all women, those with human children, and those without, but especially the women who are Horse Moms!