Rosea ran with Theresa everyday. She was loyal and devoted to Theresa, always by her side, always waiting for her to get home. She came into Theresa’s life when she was two years old – before that she had been trained as a golden retriever leader dog. This training made it stressful for her to be without Theresa so she never left her side. In many ways Rosea was Theresa’s leader and therapy. On Theresa’s wedding day, she didn’t wear a veil but instead Rosea wore it for her and stood by her side as she always did.
One day after a run Rosea came home and threw up blood. Theresa immediately took her to the vet only to discover she had lymphoma and was told she had 3 weeks to live. But mothers don’t take no for an answer. Even in the darkest times, a mother does everything in her power to save her children. So that’s what Theresa did. She drove her to and from a holistic treatment center an hour or more away every week, she adhered to a strict and daily supplement and treatment regimen but Rosea was happy. The treatment was working and it was all worth it. In the midst of caring for Rosea, Theresa gave up running. She couldn’t possibly look at Rosea’s face as she left for a run, knowing her partner in crime wanted so badly to be there but couldn’t. So just like Rosea did, Theresa continued to remain right by her side, even if that meant giving up running.
After cherishing 9 more months together, Rosea finally told her mom it was time. While unspoken, a mother knows when it’s time. Theresa drove her baby to Michigan and spent two days at camp in the sunshine, enjoying short walks together and then she laid her to rest on the hillside. Theresa was heartbroken.
“The thing with being a Mom to a dog rather than a human is we often lose our children before they lose us… and then we do it all over again. I can’t get two sentences into talking about her without breaking down… still.”
Six months later her stepchildren and their mother gave Theresa a little puppy they named Gracie. Two weeks later, Theresa went out and got her sister, the last puppy of the litter, and that’s when “the girls” as she coined them, came into her life. They may not be Rosea, but they’re not supposed to be. Regardless that doesn’t take away from the love Theresa has for them, a fierce and deep love a mother has for every one of her children. The girls accompany Theresa on runs in their double stroller. Scared of a storm, Theresa drops everything no matter where she is to come home before it’s starts raining to make sure they know they are safe. Because a mother does anything for her children.
“The greatest lesson they have taught me is that “love” doesn’t have boundaries or levels that you GET from anyone, or anything. It’s something you GIVE. My capacity to love, nurture, and FEEL that love, would always be up to me.”
Love has no hierarchies.
Theresa decided she had more love to give and so she did just that by becoming a foster mom.
“I started fostering dogs because if I could I would rescue every single one. It’s an overwhelming feeling because deep down I know I can only do so much, I can’t save every dog. People tell me all the time that they wouldn’t be able to do it, they wouldn’t be able to temporarily take in a pup and then give it up once it’s placed in its forever home. But for me it’s what I can do. Each of us has a choice to do what we can to help and give back to whatever our passion or calling might be. This is one of mine.”
Theresa loves each dog that comes into her home like its her very own, making it hard to give up. Each time finding it difficult to submerge the tears.
“Just because I only have them for a week or a month doesn’t mean I should love them with any less of my heart than my own girls. Like any mother, I feel for and care for each of them equally.”
As a stepmother to five children, a mother to her own “girls” and now a foster dog mom, Theresa gives love unconditionally, with no attachments of ownership.
“I think one of the most powerful feelings of love is the other side… not to control it. I think that’s why I do it so deeply, it’s hard, but an important practice all in itself.”
It’s a different way to love she admits, but she’d much rather love to her fullest potential, even if that love causes her angst or pain at times.
“Step-moms and foster moms of all forms, are all unsung heroes in their own right. It’s unfortunate that we don’t talk more about, or fully acknowledge, the power to love that each woman has regardless of whether they’re a traditional mother or not.”
It takes less than five minutes of being around Theresa in Mel’s home as her daughters (Theresa’s nieces) run inside to discover a surprise, their Aunt Theresa. The little girls are instantly filled with sheer joy and pure love as they embrace their Aunt. Any witness to that moment could not deny the power of love – the power of love to transcend any woman, the traditional and the non-traditional mother because love has no borders.
You see, love has no boundaries, no borders or hierarchies, love is universal.
“There are many ways to GIVE love, nurture, and add your love to something in hopes it will grow, thrive, and flourish. Intentional Nourishment (the name of my nutrition and wellness business) for me is giving as much as possible in ways that feed me. To feel love, is to give love. Love isn’t love until you give it away.”
This Mother’s Day, Theresa will join her Fellow Flowers community in running in the SHE Rocks Virtual Run in honor of Rosea and in honor of the many unsung heroes, the non-traditional mothers in all of our lives. Because every woman has a fierce capacity to love and your love is just as powerful and just as important in helping to make the world a better place.
“Don’t ever be afraid to give love freely and selflessly, with no boundaries or hierarchies. Sometimes your heart may break but it will not break apart, instead it will break more open. And to this I say, yes please. Bring it on. There is no other way to truly live life.”
What non-traditional mothers have touched you in your life? Let us know in the comments and then take a moment today to tell her how much you appreciate her, to remind her that SHE too rocks!