I’m not a mom. The Beauty of Mothering.
Originally posted on The Bearing All Project.
It was Sunday morning and we were packed into the pews like sardines. The pastor’s message was about hope, new beginnings, and the blessing and joy of mothering…that families are made up of mothers and fathers and our end-all goal in life should be parenting.
I should have stayed in bed.
As the final hymn was sung, we were released. The sanctuary doors opened and the congregation began to make its way out.
“Why is this line moving so slowly? I have to get OUT of here,” I thought.
I should have known this day would be hard.
An honor for some.
A horror for others.
The minutes passed like hours until it was finally my turn to exit. The young couple in front of me, holding their beautiful baby, moves forward, and I brace myself for what I know is coming:
Happy Mother’s Day!
“Happy Mother’s Day!” says the teenage boy at the door, smiling, holding out a carnation to me.
“No. I’m not a mother,” I reply.
“Oh. Well. Have one anyway. We’re giving them to all the ladies today,” says the boy, still holding the flower out to me.
I can feel the crowd behind me, and it feels as if every eye is on me. I slowly reach out and take the flower, softly whispering, “Thank you.”
I walk away, my heart aching.
I enter the lobby and stand in the corner, fearing that people will know. I can almost hear the whispers of “She’s not a mother” and “Why does she have a flower?” I can feel their judgment, their shame, and their pity.
I don’t deserve this flower.
I didn’t earn this flower.
I am not a mom. That’s not my role or experience.
I stand alone, afraid of those who know I’m not a mom and equally afraid of those who don’t know. The ones who don’t know that will ask innocent questions such as
“How old is your child?”
“Girl or Boy?
“What is your child’s name?”
And me, having to smile again and again, repeating, “I’m not a mom.”
Mother’s Day Can Be Hard When You’re Not a Mom
I’m not a mom because long ago, feeling alone and scared, I chose to have an abortion. I don’t deserve to be a mom.
I’m not a mom because, after three miscarriages, my heart could not bear to be broken again. I’ve lost hope.
I’m not a mom because chemotherapy left me sterile. I fought for my health and yet, I am broken.
I’m not a mom because pain and disease resulted in a hysterectomy. I feel empty.
I’m not a mom because my husband had a vasectomy. I’m disappointed.
I’m not a mom because I was sexually abused. I don’t feel worthy.
I’m not a mom because I was raped. I no longer trust.
I’m not a mom because I am divorced. I am alone and lonely.
I’m not a mom because where I live, babies are killed for being born a girl. I am scared.
I’m not a mom because I got pregnant at 15, and my parents gave my child away. It was not my choice.
I’m no longer a mom because my son had an accident, resulting in brain death. It was me who had to choose to take him off life support. No parent should have to make that decision.
I’m no longer a mom because of the disease that ravished my daughters’ body and took her from me. I am angry.
I’m not a mom because after carrying my baby for eight months, it was discovered he had no heartbeat. I still had to bear and then bury my child. I am devastated.
I’m not a mom because I’m a woman born in a man’s body. No one understands.
I’m not a mom because I know if I have a child with this abusive man, I could not stay. I give my power away.
I’m not a mom because I simply never decided to be, which in itself was a choice. I ran out of time.
I’m not a mom because I simply chose not to be. I feel judged.
I’m not a mom because I chose to build my career first, and nobody told me I could do both. I lost my chance.
I’m not a mom because I was a foster child, and I don’t want to bring a child into a cold dark world. There are enough kids out there who need love and don’t have it. I’m discouraged.
I’m not a mom because my own mother was emotionally unavailable, depressed, and an alcoholic. I’m afraid I will carry on that legacy.
I’m not a mom because my own mom left/did not want me/gave me away/died. I feel abandoned.
I’m not a mom because my own mom abused me with her words, her looks, and her fists. I feel rejected and hurt.
I’m not a mom because my dad was never around. What if my husband does the same? I don’t want to be a single mom.
I’m not a mom because I don’t think I’d be good at it. I’m scared.
I’m not a mom because, after ten years of trying and deciding to adopt, and finding the perfect baby and falling in love with the idea of adopting the birth parents decided to keep their child.
I’m not a mom because mental illness runs in my family. I’m worried I’ll suffer from it too, or pass it on to my child.
My heart is breaking.
I’m Not a Mother. Who am I?
I am your sibling. Your cousin. Your neighbor. Your best friend. Your co-worker. I’m the person that serves you your Latte every day. I’m the human you sit next to at church. I’m the news anchor on television. I’m your doctor. I’m the person at the gym you see daily.
And maybe, I am you.
Let us be sensitive, curious, and caring toward those who are not or no longer a mom, or do not have a mom.
Let’s be sensitive to our conversations when we don’t know the whole story. Let’s not push others to have a child without first showing we care or getting to know their history, fears, and dreams.
Let us embrace the concept of mothering as all-inclusive and especially reach out to those who may feel isolated, unworthy, in pain, and sad.
Let us be aware that mothers may be struggling with postpartum depression.
And, let us realize that some who are not a mother do not feel any less fulfilled. They do not feel a lack. They feel a sense of wholeness. They have a wonderful life and they love with their whole heart. They are not a mom and they are ok with that!
Let us not judge simply because they don’t have children and we are unsure how to relate or because their experiences differ from ours. Some families have no regrets if they remain childless.
You are not alone.
You are worthy.
You are loved.
As I stand there with my flower, a fake smile pasted on my face, a woman approaches me and says hi.
“I’m not a mom!” I practically shout at her before she can ask.
“Precious Child. We all have a mom, are a mom, or need a mom. We all have a role to play. That’s the beauty of mothering.”
And then she proceeds to pull me into her warm embrace. My body begins to shake. The tears begin to fall. And she just holds me tighter, loving me. Nourishing me, protecting me. Teaching me. Comforting me. Guiding me. Nurturing me. Supporting me. Embracing me. Cherishing me, reassuring me.