I know, I know. It’s Mother’s Day Weekend, and many of us are gathering around family, specifically our mothers and grandmothers, or our children are gleefully coloring and crafting little gifts to present as tokens of their love.
But spending Mother’s Day with the woman who raised you isn’t always possible. For instance, my own mother is gone now. We spent many years – and possible celebrations – apart. I wish it could have been different.
Likewise, an afternoon with children isn’t always possible. They may live with another parent or far away, leading their own lives. (They may be soon to arrive from college – though not here just yet!)
But I’m thinking of something else, of someone else, and many like her. I’m thinking about childless women – by choice or by circumstance. And everything in our culture raises an eyebrow in their direction, as if their value as women is somehow less because they aren’t mothers.
To these women, those who have struggled with fertility issues and possibly, years of resulting strain on their relationships and wallets, I would like to say that I cannot imagine the bravery and heartache you endure. Please be patient with the rest of us – with the women in particular, as it is my opinion that women judge women far more frequently and harshly than men do.
To those women who make a conscious decision not to become mothers, to live their lives fully in their relationships, their work, their exploration of the world, and other contributions – I wish you well and applaud you for being yourselves, and not bowing to cultural pressure.
Motherhood in any variation is not for everyone. It’s often a thankless job, and again, other women in particular should respect your position. Choice of lifestyle – a woman’s freedom of choice – shouldn’t be restricted to those choices we happen to agree with.
For those men and women who would love to become parents, and who never met the person with whom to make that commitment, I wish you an excellent weekend of saying yes – yes to getting out in the world, yes to whatever feels lighthearted, self-caring, and satisfying.
I wish you continued optimism if parenthood is something you still hope for – whenever and however a child may come into your life. After all, what makes you a mother isn’t necessarily biology. But you know that; we all know that. There are so many ways to influence children for the better, including as a step-parent. Even for those of us past full-time parenting our own kids, we have options for exercising our nurturing side.
And let’s not forget, we shouldn’t value or evaluate a woman’s worth based on whether or not she is a parent, working with children, or in a relationship. Might we not see our women as individuals, free, if at all possible, to pursue their interests as they see fit?
To those who aren’t in relationships at the moment, or relationships that appear to be leading where you might like, I wish you less judgment from all of us – in a society that is too quick to criticize, to categorize, and to dismiss.
Sometimes, circumstances are beyond our control. If we can – we get creative, we get going, and we change course as needed.
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