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Do I Matter Even if I Am Not a Mother?

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? 

Do I matter if I am not a mother on a dark background, a heart on a stick holding in a hand
?: unsplash @kellysikkema

Read also ‘How to Save a Relationship? Advice from Happy Couples

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. 

You are a complete human being Inspirational Quote on a pink background, on Journeyofsmiley Blog

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.

A picture of a woman with writing on her hands, I am always enough, on Journeyofsmiley Blog

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. 

A rose in a vase, Happy Mother's Day to all women on Journeyofsmiley Blog
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Happy Mother’s Day to all the extraordinary, selfless, fearless, caring, funny, smart, strong and amazing women out there!

Thank you and till the next blog post,

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45 thoughts on “Do I Matter Even if I Am Not a Mother?”

  1. Yes. You absolutely matter. Having a child doesn’t change the fact that you are a caring, empathetic, and loving person. Another label does not make your identity. I sometimes ask myself the same thing, as I am single at 50. I experienced trauma with men and have a hard time getting close enough to share a healthy relationship, so I remain single. Thank you for this extremely heartfelt and important post.

  2. Since it’s considered normal to be a mother by a certain age, you will get judged weirdly. I’m sure there have been women who regretted not being a mother but there are also women who did not regret remaining childless. At the end of the day, it’s up to you and even though you might explain your reasoning to other people, they don’t accept it?? and try to convince you?? I know someone personally who’s going through this so I relate to this article very much.

    1. Thank you for sharing! That’s great! We all have a purpose, even if it’s not the same. And that’s ok, it doesn’t have to be. Many thanks!

  3. After becoming a Mother I did lose a sense of who I was as a human. You really do let yourself go a bit until you get the hang of motherhood. I always remind myself now I need to refill my cup to fill others!

  4. I don’t have children and I haven’t ever asked that question about do I matter if im not a mother But I found it interesting to hear your perspective on the topic. My mother had 7 kids – I don’t see her any more fulfilled than I am with zero. Life is what you make it. We are our meaning makers. We all matter. Xo

    1. Indeed, we all matter! Knowing our purpose is so important, and we all have a purpose, even if it’s not the same. It doesn’t have to, and it is ok. As a woman, I try to support other women, who feel that pressure from society and often doubt themselves. Yes, we all matter!

    1. Oh my goodness, you so matter in this world and life you live. ❤️

      I am a mother of two grown children, and a grandmother of two boys. I’m a wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Aunt. Cousin. And the list could go on and on. We all wear so many hats but those hats do not define us. Nothing we could ever do or have will ever define who we are.

      For me, I’m a child and daughter of God, above anything else. It’s not about who we are but whose we are. I am a child of God. My identity is anchored in this truth I am a child of God. My identity is anchored in this truth and I live, love, and lead from this reality. (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1, Romans 8: 14-17) and I live, love, and lead from this reality. (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1, Romans 8: 14-17)

      Thank you for this much needed post! ❤️

      1. Thank you for those much-needed words! We are children of God, and that’s what matters! So yes, we all are loved, worthy, and we all matter! Blessings to you

  5. You are worthy. You are loved. You matter. This article is so beautifully written and really speaks to me as I am also married but childless and honestly I don’t see any children in my near future but hate that people ask so much about it as was your experience. This truly spoke to me, thank you for talking about this! <3 x

  6. Thank you for this important message! It is such a big decision in every woman’s life to decide whether or not to have children. We all do matter ❤️

  7. Oh.. this post spoke loudly to me. I, too, am childless, but not necessarily by choice. My late fiance and I talked about having a child, but with our lives being so busy, we never felt ‘ready’ to bring our baby into the world and provide for them as much as possible.

    Of course, now the opportunity is gone as I lost him two years ago. Nearly all of my friends are mothers (some are even grandmothers!) and yes, the feeling of not truly being able to relate feels ostracizing.

    I see them proudly showing off their children’s accomplishments and gab with other moms and… I can’t jump in and say anything. I don’t feel I have the right to, you know?

    I know they don’t judge me or ask why my fiance and I didn’t have the baby when we could, but it still feels horrible.

    Reading the point of view of other childless women helps so much. I do regret not having the baby when we could, but today I work through that by contributing what I can to the world in another way and leaving a legacy that I can be proud of – even if it doesn’t involve offspring.

    Thank you for the inspiring post and for speaking from your heart.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I’m so sorry for your loss but so glad that you have found your purpose. Because even if your life doesn’t look as you imagined, you have made some meaningful contributions to the world and there are many people who appreciate it. Sending hugs and prayers 🙏

  8. Great post. As a childless working woman, I found myself working alone and covering for all the parents as they came late to work, left early, all took the same weeks and days off due to school schedules… I finally got fed up. I started coming in late, leaving early as well. Halloween is a big day for kids in the US. Parent coworkers would leave at Noon to deal with all of it and I’d be left taking up the slack. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not resenting them for having children or doing activities with them. That’s fine. It was the expectation that I’d pick up the slack because “she’ll be here.” So I left too. It caused some drama but I stood my ground.

  9. Being a mother is a beautiful thing. No one’s less by not being a mother. Many couples even choose not to have children. It’s a matter of choice as well.

  10. Beautiful! We all are worthy – mother or not. I agree that we don’t have to answer to anyone and that to each their own. We never can put ourselves in other’s shoes

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Indeed, we don’t walk in others’ shoes so shouldn’t judge others just because our life looks different. Many thanks!

  11. I think you absolutely matter, regardless of whether you have kids or not.
    I have many child free friends, some by choice, some because they couldn’t have kids. They all matter, they are all worthy.

    Sometimes it’s hard to connect in the same way with people who don’t have kids, speaking as a woman with two children. I’ve had different experiences to you in this area, and it’s hard to picture my life without kids, just because they have changed everything about my life!
    But of course, we all have different experiences in life, and we can find so much that makes us different to each other! And many many things that can connect us. We are all human, and go through all the ups and downs of life.

    Best wishes to you

    1. Pippa, thank you so much for sharing and for your kind words! You are right, we are all different, but there are many things that connect us. We are all human beings and we all matter! Thank you so much, really appreciated it!

  12. Having a child is not the bee all and end all of everything that’s for sure! I think people who make the decision not to have children are very strong!
    I also think that those who say silly things like ‘who will look after you when you’re old’ are ignorant. 1) You will have a lot more income without a child, so your nest egg should be growing! 2) Nobody fully knows how their children are going to turn out until they are fully grown (I consider this aged 27!) and even then, is it guaranteed that they will look after you? No.
    Enjoy life, live it, have no regrets 🙂

  13. Thank you for writing this. I wish more people understood that womanhood and motherhood are not the same thing. I have often heard growing up, that you have to be a mother and that it’s the best thing a woman could do or the best job a woman can have is being a mother. It’s just so insensitive. I’m a support of the childfree community and have to say that I love my mother, but I don’t believe that everyone needs to have a child. I don’t understand why society doesn’t understand yet that being a woman doesn’t mean you have to be a mother.

  14. Love this! Everyone matters! Being a mother or not! I do have kids and they are my world but I don’t question others on the topic because it really is none of my business. I don’t want to cause unnecessary hurt. It’s nice you put this out there!

  15. “Childless but not less.”

    Love this. Thank you. I hate being vilified or stared at like I have 2 kids when asked about my childless status.

  16. You have written yet another very interesting article, Katy. As a child free, senior citizen in a long marriage, I have no regrets at not having a family of my own. As a teenager, being a mother was not how I saw myself in the future. Peer pressure and pressure from friends was pretty constant during my thirties. Thankfully, there was none from my mother or other family members as they knew my feelings on this most personal of subjects. I can clearly remember my mother telling me that it was probably better not to be mother at all than to be a miserable one. Let’s not forget that before the pill became widely available in the 1960s, there was little or no doubt that most women would become mothers whether or not that’s what they wanted. A cause of irritation for me was the comment of ‘You’ll be next’, which I got at the office when an employee would turn up with her new baby. I also disliked, ‘You’d make a great mother ‘. How on earth could they know!

    I have always enjoyed being an auntie; just never had an interest in holding my own children. I’m me and I feel fulfilled as a person; that’s all that counts. Always be true to your own feelings!

    1. Thank you so much, Nadia! I really appreciate your wise words. Yes, I also always think the same when someone says, “You’d make a great mother,” thinking just because I have been working with children for so long then surely I must be…but having your own is a very different matter. Just like you I’m enjoying being an auntie. You indeed are a great lady, friend, and so much more…
      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’s ok. As long as we follow our calling and are true to ourselves, that’s more than ok!

  17. Society should not pressure anyone to have a child. The people that matter are the people in the relationship and what type of family they would like. People should be valued for their character and how they treat others, not just if they have children.

  18. I love this article and can totally relate to you! I’ve been married for 11 years and my husband and I decided early on that we wanted to be child-free. As a social worker, I work with children and love them but have no desire to have one of my own. There’s a lot of societal and cultural pressure for me to have kids and be a mom but the older I get the more I realize the value, freedom, joy, happiness and stress-free aspects of being child-free by choice.

  19. This is so beautifully written and heartfelt. It is a difficult topic for sure. Each person may have a unique perspective but this is your journey and you are definitely loved, precious and enough Katy. A child does not make you more of a woman. I believe children are an entrusted gift to be treasured. No one should put pressure on others for their choices neither should they make assumptions to what is going on regarding this area in life. The unfortunate thing is that we live in a time when too many people put pressure on others when they are not doing what is they believe is expected. I really appreciate you sharing on this topic especially including your personal experiences. I believe God will use this to encourage many. Sending you love and hugs ????

    Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)

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