This time of year is difficult for some of us. After all, there are pitfalls to being a non-mother.
Let me start by saying I don’t sit around depressed because I don’t have kids. And I don’t begrudge those who do.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to have a family like the Waltons. I used to watch the show and think how great it would be to have a whole house full of kids running around. I wanted to have a few myself, and then adopt as many as I could get my hands on.
I was also influenced by my mother, who is the middle child out of 11 – she often says there were five before her and five after. She still tells me stories about growing up in a household where there were often more mouths to feed than there were biscuits. But even when that was the case, they sounded happy.
And I have to admit, my big, loud, all-in-your-business Irish extended family is one of my favorite parts of my life. I have aunts and uncles galore, and cousins out the wazoo.
But, as often happens, life didn’t turn out the way I planned. I haven’t married (although I am currently accepting applications), and at my age, it’s a safe bet I won’t be having any offspring without a – cue the angelic chorus – miracle from above.
I have to say, I’m OK with that. Oh, I have my moments, and on Mother’s Day, it’s sort of hard to watch my friends who’ve had kids get those adoring, googly-eyed looks from their children.
But overall, I’m happy with my life. I believe things work out the way they are supposed to, and I have two handsome nephews, and a glorious and beautiful niece Ican spoil rotten and send home. I’m very good at being an aunt.
What harshes my mellow is that moment in church when the well-meaning pastor asks all mothers to stand, and everyone applauds. What would happen if he asked all who are not mothers to stand? Would there be applause?Not likely. So there I sit. Gutted.
I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done. There is no greater calling and no harder job than that of being a mother. They should be recognized and appreciated for all they do. I just wish it could be done in a way that didn’t make me stand out so much.
Another blow is when someone says, “You can’t possibly understand what it means to truly love a child, since you don’t have any of your own.”
Well. Smack me right in the face.
I beg to differ. I do realize the bond between a mother and a child is phenomenal and beautiful, but don’t tell me that I can’t fully love someone else’s child.
I worked for many years as a student minister in churches in North Georgia and Oregon, while I kept working as a journalist. Talk about your crazy schedules...
During those years, there were many times I took in the children of others who were, for whatever reason, unable to care for them. I’ve had young girls come and stay with me because their mothers were with a boyfriend who was a little too touchy-feely, who used drugs, who didn’t want their kids anymore or who were just plain too wrapped up in their own lives to care about their daughters. I took those kids in and loved and cared for them until their parents were able to welcome them back home. I did it gladly, and I’d do it again.
Why do I share this? Because I know I am not alone. There are other women out there who have no children because of infertility, choice, miscarriage, cancer...there are as many reasons as there are women.
So to those who are moms, thank God for you. Without you, none of us would be here – literally – and we certainly wouldn’t be who we are.
To those who long for children but are unable to have them, forgive those of us who say inappropriate things or make assumptions, and make it harder than it already is for you.
To those special women who are foster moms and/or mentors, I applaud you for your efforts to make a difference in the lives of others. We need more women like you.
To those women who have become step-mothers, and are loving and caring for another woman’s children, thank you for stepping up and opening your heart.
To those women who gave a child up for adoption to provide a better life for him or her than you can provide, may your heart be comforted and may you have peace. Would that we were all so selfless.
To those mothers whose children have abandoned this precious relationship, I grieve with you for your loss, and hope you will find joy when your prodigal son returns home.
And to pastors everywhere, Imust say I appreciate the desire you and your congregation have to honor mothers on their special day...but I ask that you consider those women for whom sitting there as mothers stand all around them is like having salt rubbed into an open wound. Find a way to honor all the women in your congregation and the contributions they make.