Between helping my sister make Alice in Wonderland decorations for her upcoming baby shower and Mother's Day on Sunday, I couldn't help but think about mothers. I know many great ones, from my Grandma, to my own mama, to my sister who will give birth in a few months, to all the good friends I know who have brought little ones into the world over the years. I love each of these women and they all do wonderful jobs raising their children. I admire them for that.
I, however, may never have children.
I announced this once to my mom, who simply blinked and asked me why. I explained that I'm not opposed to having children, but that I wasn't going to try to force it to happen. If have my own kids, great. If I don't, that's fine, too. Life will unfold as it unfolds, and I'm going to let it be what it'll be.
"I get it," my mom said. "Getting married, having kids, just isn't your priority. Travel and writing is." (Oh, what a gift it is to have a mom that gets it. I am so blessed.)
I was reminded of this conversation, when a friend on twitter, Athena Dixon
, "Mother's Day makes me a bit sad. I don't know if I'm going to have a chance to be a mother."
At first, I was slow to respond to Athena's post, because sometimes while trying to be helpful, you end up not being so; and while I am comfortable with not having children, not everyone is. Also, I didn't want to say anything along the lines of "don't be sad," because everyone has the right to feel sad, if they are, and I feel it's important to simply give, hold and respect space for that sadness, if that is what the person wants.
In the conversation that followed with Athena and Jessie Carty
, and what essentially came out of the conversation was more or less this:
There is a lot of pressure on women especially, but also married men, to have children. The pressure comes from parents, grandparents, family and friends. For women, this pressure happens regardless of marriage, but if you are married, then next step has
to be birthing children, and many people simply can't understand why a couple would make the choice not to have any. It baffles them, even though it is entirely possible to live a fulfilled and happy life without raising children.
Also, there are many, many ways to be a mother, and there are many children in the world who need one. You do not have to biologically give birth to a child to be a mother. You do not even have to have a womb to be a mother.
I plan to adopt someday, when I feel economically prepared, if not emotionally so, to take responsibility for another life. In addition to adoption, there is also being an aunt, a god mother, sponsoring a child, teaching, and (I'm sure) many other ways to make a difference in a child's life, to give them the support and generosity of spirit they need to survive childhood and grow into adults.
In my mind, the only wrong way to be a mother is to be unloving, brutal, cruel, or abusive.
Whether you choose to have have a child -- your own or someone else's --, or whether you you choose not to have a child, your life is good an valuable. You are valuable, and I honor your decision, whatever it may be.
As a side note, because I thought it was a nice read, here's a post by Darby Hickey, a transgender mom, "Reflections on Motherhood"