As Mother’s Day approaches, I find the discussion of children and motherhood from my most recent college reunion finding its way back into my head. A few years ago, I attended a reunion organised for the class that I was in at college as a teenager. We were a girls-only class of around thirty. Given this, it was probably inevitable that the conversations between us as adults would turn to motherhood at some point. On any occasions where mothers meet up, it seems to be a sense of common identity. So be it you say, what else should they talk about when it is motherhood that unites them? And I totally get it. What I’m talking about is the feeling of judgement that often comes with it. The ostracised feelings that are often hard to swallow. Because how can my life actually be fulfilled if I am childless? How can it be worthy? And does my life actually have any purpose? Do I matter, if I am not a mother?
I am a complete human being, but do I matter?
In a world that so often considers motherhood as the primary purpose of a woman’s life, it’s hard to be a married yet childfree woman who is content with what she has. Of course, there were times when I asked myself if I would not want to leave any offspring behind. Next month it will be sixteen years since I got together with my hubby. And we opened the tenth year together with our wedding. You can imagine that for almost a decade we listened to the same question, “When are you two getting married?” Once we got married, the question changed. Now we get to hear, “When are you going to have a baby?” You would think that after so many years, people would perhaps stop asking the same question time and time again. Hello, so much has happened in my life since we last saw each other…but no, the question remains the same.
And I understand. For most mothers, their children are the most precious things in their life. They see themselves as being a mother first and foremost, so no wonder that many of their conversations eventually get back to being about their children. However, for women who can’t conceive, this may often be painful, especially when they have to explain their childless status again and again.
There are perhaps certain questions that just shouldn’t be asked, and there are things that are no one’s business but your own. And this is often hard to spell out to those who like to stick their fingers in other people’s lives. But you know what? You don’t have to explain yourself. You know your situation, your life, you know what you have been through, and no one is in a position to judge you. If you have decided that you and your partner have tried enough and the invasiveness of IVF is not for you, then so let it be. It is not for everyone, and not everyone can afford it either.
Mother’s Day can be hard
For those who tried and failed to conceive, Mother’s Day is often a tough time. Therefore, if you are one of those, know that I see you, I hear you and I’m so sorry for what you have been through. But I want to tell you that you are not alone and you matter. You are worthy! Your role in this world is just as important as someone who has had children.
It is also hard for those who are childless through choice. And it’s even more fraught for women who know that a child is a gift from God but don’t feel the calling to be a mother. They often feel condemned, unworthy and guilty or sinful. Regardless of what they do for the community, how much they serve others or God. They often ask if bringing a child into the world is the only thing that matters. Isn’t God more concerned with the spiritual blessings than the treasures on earth?
Childless but not less
Is having a child a universal mandate for every couple? As a childless married woman, I ask myself this question so often. Why do so many childless women find themselves vilified, identified as being cold-hearted, selfish and unworthy? As I look back to my last class reunion, I can’t forget the words of my former classmate, “Who will take care of you when you’re old if you don’t have children?” I stood there speechless without an answer at the time as I listened to her. But as I was thinking about her words of guilt and shame later, I couldn’t help but ask myself a question. Can we really condemn someone as selfish for not having children whilst at the same time proclaiming that we have children with the expectation that they will look after us as we get older?
I’m not a career woman, neither am I immune to the desire to care for any other living beings. I’m just a woman who went through too many things in her life. I don’t know what the future brings, but I know that I have a lot of work to do in order to heal myself. But despite the long recovery journey, I know one thing for sure – mother or not, I do matter!
Sometimes I think that if I hadn’t had to go through all the trauma in my life, I would perhaps already have children. But I wouldn’t want my child to experience what I have had to go through. Maybe if life hadn’t caused me so much pain, maybe if I had dealt with my trauma as and when it occurred? But I will never know how that life could have turned out. And what we don’t know, we don’t miss.
Read also ‘A Letter to My Dear Mum in Heaven‘
Mother or not, I do matter – And so do you!
I have a loving husband and I feel that I have found my purpose in life. I don’t ask you to understand or agree with me, but there are so many colours, so many shades in life, and perhaps it’s the same with the meaning of life. Maybe we don’t all have the same purpose, and that is ok. As long as you follow your calling, your childbearing status doesn’t matter. The only thing that does matter is you – I believe I do matter, and so do you!
Even though I have not given birth to humankind, I believe I have made some meaningful contributions to this world. And so have you! Because it doesn’t matter if you are a mother or not, you are a loving human being. You are worthy, you are loved and you matter. Trust God, you will be ok, with or without a baby. No matter if you hold a child in your arms or not, you have so much to offer to this world.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the extraordinary, selfless, fearless, caring, funny, smart, strong and amazing women out there!
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