“You’re not a real woman until you become a mother.” Really? Says who? There’s a certain amount of pain associated with Mother’s Day, for those who have not been able to conceive, or has not met someone they love enough to have a child with. Although I am a mum now, I can and do relate to this feeling.
I was 37 years old when I fell pregnant. Before then, I was approached by many questioning people. They wanted to know why I had not had a child by then. They looked surprised. If their reactions to my face said so much, I can only imagine what was said in my absence. They literally made me feel as if there was something wrong with me. They looked at me in shock when they learned what my age was and that I had not had a child and that my biological clock was ticking. They felt and expressed pity toward me. “Oh shame,” they’d say.
As if I was just put on earth to bear a child or children. It wasn’t a shame then, as I knew what I wanted and I wasn’t going to settle for any less. Even to this day, people ask, “when’s the next one coming?” They look shocked when I say that we are not planning on having another child. Like seriously, why is this an issue? Is there a rule somewhere that says you must have a child or more than one?
Before I met my husband, I went through a phase where I was somewhat depressed because I wanted a child more than anything. I dreamed of becoming a mother. It seemed as if that was not going to work out for me and I prepared myself to accept that. I recall that at one stage, I refrained from carrying babies, to avoid feeling broody. It took a lot out of me, but I finally accepted that I may not meet someone and that I may never become a mother.
Fortunately for me, I met my husband and my life took a turn for the better since then. Whilst I love my husband and my child, I also know, that if I didn’t meet my husband at the time, I was in a place in my life, where that would be okay. I was going to make the most of my life if I had to be single.
Who is it really that says that you’re not a woman if you don’t have a child? Why does society have this Skewed perception and expectation that every woman should have a child? Does it really mean that you’re less of a woman because you don’t have a child? What happened to freedom of choice and individuality?
There are some women who will never have a child of their own, for medical reasons or personal preferences. There are some couples that will never have a child because they are happy as a couple with their decision not to. There are some women who may have been raped or abused and for that reason will not want to have a child. Whatever the reason is, isn’t important to anyone else but that person or that couple.
A woman who does not have a child, may be successful in every area of her life, married or not, she may be career focused or perhaps intent on travelling or both. If the thought of having a child doesn’t appeal to her, then why should she have a child?
I know of many women who have children but are not fit to be called mothers. It’s more like they were incubators if you had to ask me. Giving birth to a child doesn’t mean that you’re mother, does it? By the way, as a side comment, I had an emergency C-section, I didn’t plan it that way but it’s what needed to be done, does that make me less of a mother because I didn’t have normal birth?
We are inundated by social media and the newspaper of innocent children becoming the victims of abuse. Perhaps this scares some from having children of their own. Perhaps some people have a lack of patience or maybe they’re in a partnership without trust or stability. Isn’t it then better not to have a child if you cannot give that child the love and attention he or she deserves? The fact is, not every woman or couple wants to have a child and that’s absolutely okay. It is their personal right and choice to make such a decision.
If a man decided that his career was his focus and that he didn’t want to have a child or family, would anyone look down on him? If a woman decided the same, would the reaction be the same? We speak of gender equality, so shouldn’t it be applicable in this instance as well? Some women are ambitious and motherhood isn’t one of their ambitions. Full stop.
I remember the nights I went to bed crying, alone and hurting. Watching everyone around me getting pregnant. Watching everyone around me dating and being in love. I wanted nothing more than to have a family of my own. When people questioned me, I put on a smile and made excuses sometimes, feeling guilty. I didn’t have to! It was my life. It may have not been my decision then not to have a child, but who’s business was it for anyone to judge me?
You’re beautiful, you’re strong, you’re alive and happy. Not everyone was meant to be a mother and if that’s you, so be it.
Not every women is able to conceive and if you know a woman like this or married to one, then be more supportive to her on a day like Mother’s Day, cos chances are, she is highly likely to be more emotional on a day like this.
Then there are many women who are still single, they’d love nothing more than to be a mother, but if they haven’t met that special someone as yet, they too will hurt on a day like Mother’s Day. Be sensitive to this and about the jokes or questions you make around them.
Don’t forget about those who have lost their mums. This will be a sad day in their life, every year. Help them through the day by being supportive, spend time with them or do something that will brighten up their day.
There is nothing worse than being made to feel that you’re not a woman just because you don’t have a child, trust me, I know, I’ve been there. I don’t think people realise the seriousness of what they say when they make comments that make you feel less of a woman. Some of these women may not have children, but through their work, or at family functions or even when they volunteer, they express so much of love for children, that you would not have even guessed they don’t have children of their own.
This Mother’s Day and every other day going forward, be mindful of what you say to those without children. We don’t know why. We don’t know what they’ve been through. We don’t know how long they’ve been trying. We don’t know. We don’t know and we don’t need to know. It’s their decision, their life. Respect it and respect her for the woman that she is or the couple that they are. Never make them feel any less just because they don’t have children.
If you’re that woman or couple who can’t have children, it’s not the end of the world. Try alternate methods and adoption as a last resort if you want a child that much. If not, live your life doing all the things that make you happy, don’t feel sorry for yourself because you don’t have a child. That’s just life and like anything else in life, if you really want something, you will find a way to make it happen.
On this Mother’s Day, I’m thinking of those of you who are not mothers, for whatever reason and I hope that this post has made you feel stronger to not just get through this day but to own this day and remind yourself of the woman that you are! You are someone’s daughter, sister, friend, wife, girlfriend, you’re a woman! You’re a woman not by choice but by birth. Having a child does not make you a woman…don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Love that woman, cos she is amazing even if she doesn’t have a child!