Happy Mother’s Day to All You Mother’s Without Children,
We are childless by choice or miserably childless but regardless we are not mothers. The majority of women without children in this country are considered odd or emotionally cold. Even childless couples are ignored as a group. Some people are under the assumption that everyone that marries will eventually have children. Men and women who elect not to start a family do not fit into the whole societal “norm” and often this raises suspicions from those who simply cannot relate to them, or worse, choose not to.
Going through life without a child has its obvious side-effects. Yearning for children, as many women can attest, is one of the most horrific experiences a woman who struggles with fertility must deal with in her lifetime. On one end she sees her friends and family celebrating the joys of their parenthood or on the other; she must listen to their complaints about their kids and hear how having children is overrated. Either way, women who cannot have children have no choice in the matter. She is not a part of their world – she’s a shut-out when it comes to sharing stories and memories.
Women who try desperately to have children go through several stages: disbelief, depression, and, in the best case scenarios, acceptance. They are subjected to everyone’s opinion on the subject. Insensitive people tell them how fortunate they are, or they can just adopt or that they can be segregate parents to their nieces or nephews. As if any of these recommendations would bring closure to a childless women’s grief.
The only thing worse than being an infertile female is being a foster parent and having the baby ripped away from you by the system and then, having it killed by its natural parents. Like most things in life, unless you have been there – it is impossible to imagine. For me, the incident I just described was a turning point, a milestone that stopped me from wanting to be a mother, from craving what my body could never achieve. The pain of the loss I experienced so young made me reconsider how overly protective I would have been as a guardian of a child in the future.
Had I gotten pregnant, I am certain I would have been a suffocating mother. I once had a girlfriend who brought with her a small toddler to stay for a weekend at our home. The child was out of control and without the appropriate maternal instincts intact I lost it after hours of relentless whining. Everything we tried to do to make happy or to calm her down was hopeless. Nothing seemed to satisfy her. My reaction to this little girl told horrors on myself. Making it easier to believe the saying I once heard: “parentless children grow up to be childless parents.” Having had that little girl in my home made all my regrets about not having a family vanish in a trillionth of a second. I most likely, would have been the world’s worst parent by far. I was atrocious when she started throwing her tantrums. I just could not handle it.
One of the first and most poignant observations a woman without children becomes aware of is the expectations other women have for her to be a mother. According to an article written by Zandria on her blog: “Childless Women Do Not Lack Humanity” studies suggest when others learn you are childless their suspicions start right from the beginning. And, it is so much worse if you have come to terms with not being a mother. People just label you “selfish.” I remember once when my husband and I got two little puppies. Everyone in our compound befriended us. Aside from the fact that those two furry little creatures were dogs and not children, our new role as their guardians made our neighbors who had previously been cool and detached, more social to us.
I have always thought that my assertiveness has been exaggerated because I am out there alone – coming across as real go-getter without children pulling at my apron strings or making me work several jobs to help support them or put them through college. Over the past fifteen years people’s negative reactions to my childlessness have grown worse. Women have not only been rude but demeaning. They have told me I am narcissistic, a wannabe Mother Theresa and a reincarnation of the restless and rebellious dancer, Isabel Duncan. I surmise it is because these are the years that parenting has been the most difficult for them. Their cute and cuddly babies have grown into young men and women who are questioning everything including their parenting skills or lack of them. I think it is because there is such a huge discrepancy as to where I allocate my time and financial resources and where they must place their focus. I think they simply cannot understand what it feels like not to have children or grandchildren and to know you never will.
Everyone knows that having a baby does not make a mother but I wonder why by not having a child, so many people think she is less of a woman. We, women without children, should not have to apologize for taking a walk, going back to college or having the discretionary finances to take a cruise. We should not be made to feel that we have missed out on something in life, even if it was our own choice to not engage in the experience of motherhood. In the final analysis, it is the same decision some men make for themselves and is hardly questioned if they are committed to their careers and do not want to settle down. I look at Oprah and, then I think about George Clooney and his desire not to be a parent and there is no comparison and the stigma is very apparent.
Copyright©2010 All right reserved – Victoria L. Rayner
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Tiffany Lee Brown’s blog for Notmothers
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