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opinion 'Mammies' of pets celebrate Mother's Day too

Like many who are childfree I get my maternal fix other ways

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Trigger warning: if the phrase 'fur mom' makes your teeth itch, look away now.

It's Mothering Sunday - and like the growing cohort of child-free women across the country, I'll be getting my maternal fix by sending unsolicited (but totally adorable) photos of my dogs to friends, cooing over a potted plant and possibly adopting annoying 'parentese' while ordering a Chinese later on.

Step, surrogate, single or same-sex - hard-working mothers of all kinds are rightly being showered with cards and chocolates by their children and grandchildren today.

In these identity fluid days however, you don't even have to have squeezed one out, or be raising one that someone else did, to self-define as a mammy.

From the aforementioned fur moms to 'plant moms' and even 'sourdough moms', if it needs to be fed, watered and cleaned up after, we're already picking out a name for our 'baby'.

And I know for a fact that I'm not the only one who received a 'Mother's Day' card from their four-legged dependants today. Incredibly, given the enduring legacy of the Irish mammy, Irish women now have the third-highest rate of childlessness in the developed world, according to a study by the OECD.

Yet, even for those of us quite happily sans sprogs - or 'voluntarily childless', to give it its official title - science shows how the biological need to nurture can still run deep.

Take the adult daughters, super aunts and local volunteers showing 'maternal instinct' towards everyone from ageing parents to complete strangers on a daily basis without ever getting a Hallmark holiday. As wedding invites turn to baby showers and first birthday parties, naturally we 'freemales' can begin to feel more 'other' than 'mother'.

Despite having a clatter of godchildren, nieces and nephews that cost a bomb each birthday and Christmas, without enduring the hell of childbirth - or worse, home-schooling - we know that we'll never truly be part of the club.

We're aware there's a secret WhatsApp group just for the mammies - and we're fine with that.

Oprah's empathetic interview with Harry and Meghan at the weekend - compared to gran-of-eight the Queen's cold "recollections may vary" response - is proof that you don't have to be a mother to be 'motherly'.

The rise of 'plant parenthood' among both male and female millennials in lockdown shows you don't have to be a woman at all.

And so if I happen to be found spoon-feeding the fur babies or singing the spider plant to sleep today - what of it.

At least, I'm not as cracked as the Californian woman who hit headlines for breastfeeding her pet pug or the one whose puppy will only nod off to Dream A Little Dream Of Me - yet.


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