The Heart of Love


With another Mother’s Day behind us, I reflected on the meaning of another commercial holiday to recognise someone who nurtures and cares for us.  There are many definitions of that role.  Mums, step mums, grandmothers, foster mums, pregnant mums, mums to fur babies, animal mums and foster mums to animals.

Like other holiday times, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with family but it shouldn’t be an expectation with added stress and expense.  There are many ways of showing our appreciation, but I don’t believe it should be an obligation.

I think the real meaning behind unconditional love is that there are no rules to it. We appreciate the time we spend but we don’t make demands or burden with guilt trips.

As a mother of two adult children and a grandchild, this is my philosophy about them.  I don’t own them, they are not mine, I have guided them, nurtured them and watched them grow and develop into the adults they were meant to be. I am a part of their world, but not their whole world and I make no demands or expectations of them.

No matter what age we are, it is not our job to make anyone happy so I don’t allow myself to get pulled into a vortex of either expecting it or giving it.

Love isn’t a commodity to be bargained with, kept score or manipulated to make us feel our own worth.  It should be given freely in whatever form we are lucky enough to receive.

As a puppy raiser with the Guide Dogs SA/NT, the most common question I get asked is ‘how could you give them back? I wouldn’t be able to give them back’.

My response has always been that they don’t belong to us and there is a bigger picture at play here.

I have often wondered if people think we are unfeeling to be able to give them back.  I feel the opposite is true.  I feel because we give them unconditional love, and I think I speak for all puppy raisers in saying, that we not only love them like our own pets, but we are committed to their progress to succeed and loving them unconditionally means knowing they are on loan to us to mould, to teach, to give them their first introduction into the world and then let them move onto the next part of their journey.

Instead of grieving about what we don’t have later down the track, I think if we go into it with an attitude of how grateful we are to be part of someone’s better quality of life, I would say that is thanks enough.  To give is to not expect anything in return and still be happy to do it.  In saying that, I think we are very lucky for the experience and the reward we get from the way it opens our hearts.  I guess it comes back to quality over quantity and the gratitude for the moments.

When we take out the thought of WIIFM, (What’s in it for me) it’s really a no brainer, because realistically it’s NOT about us.

I think the ability to let go is a greater gift of love than to try to keep it for ourselves.

Missing the physical presence of someone, human or pet is a natural occurrence. Trying to hold onto it because it relieves a need in us isn’t unconditional love. I believe small children and animals come into this world giving unconditional love, it’s our role to ensure they continue to receive it back.

I believe the biggest lesson I have learnt from being a mother, nana and now a twice time puppy raiser is vulnerability.  The risk of having your heart broken but yet still show up every day for more, because it is worth it.


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