While standing in aisle 7 of a local supermarket; reading the ingredients list on a pack of an overpriced all natural lemon bar, a small girl I would guess to be around the age of four, peered up at me with bright brown eyes and a ponytail that reached past her shoulders. She began to move her arms slowly, reaching her hands up in the “give me a hug” motion towards my waist.
It was apparent that she had wandered away from her guardians. When I asked the sweet girl, “Where is your mama, honey,” she abruptly turned away and ran. I walked behind her until suddenly, and quite thankfully, I watched her grab the knee of a woman in the next aisle whose eyes were just as brown and full as her daughters and ecstatic beyond belief to see her. I waved at the girl’s mom with a nod signaling all is well, and the mom with her baby girl in her reach looked at me with a wink of acknowledgment pushing her shopping cart towards the checkout counter.
I often find myself in deep thought this time of year, perhaps it’s as a result of my birthday and my mother’s birthday being three days apart followed within a week of Mother’s Day. In the past, I’ve always embraced the comfort of reflection around these big days.
This year I turn 42. I am divorced, no children, and no current committed relationship. All of which has propelled me towards accepting that I may never experience motherhood.
At 42 my weight gain baby blues hormones are fluctuating, and I am finding myself in a pattern of longing for baby soft closeness of a newborn of my own.
When asked by well-intended people what seems to be the prominent questions regarding “why someone my age doesn’t have children” I cringe from the familiar questions that once didn’t bother this feminist; However now I find myself questioning and saddened from my lack of an appropriate response.
I am often taken aback by some of the hurtful and hateful discourse spewed from the mouths of otherwise well-meaning folks who pressure woman over 40 to discuss their decision-making strategy on being single and childless. Here are three such mind blowing questions I’ve encountered that one should simply never ask a woman over 40 who has never had a biological child:
1. Do you like children? And what if I say NO? …but of course I do
2. Have you thought about adopting or fostering a child? Yes. This is a viable option for some, however – not always the best initial question to ask someone longing for a child of their own.
3. Why don’t you have children? (subtext: “What’s wrong with you?”) Basically, it’s none of anyone’s business-medical, personal, or otherwise.
Honestly, life happened. And here I am in the state I am in with no children. But, my heart is feeling a sense of nostalgia towards motherhood the experience of pregnancy, the fertility of womanhood, and the overall genius of mothering and parenting.
As a feminist, womanist, who enjoys single-hood and owns a creative business and speaks to women often professionally about their strength and choice to not have children, I could feel somewhat guilty for experiencing these notions, but I offer up grace to myself to heal this period of yearning.
For many years, I made a fulfilling living as a child development specialist specializing and teaching child development and infant and toddler brain development courses and became an expert in the field before I changed careers into the creative field; how ironic the childless is the expert on children.
Though those days are behind. I now find myself wondering, just wondering if ever so slightly have I missed out on the mother lode in life so to speak? Did I wait too long or am I not worthy of a life that includes children and a family of my own?
Making up my mind to accept my current motherless plight without taking a deep dive into isolation or pretending that it doesn’t matter is something upon which I am bravely embarking.
Nurturing the heart song of being motherless is the healing journey I pen to page for my feminist empowerment. If I could enclose a poem to my loss motherhood, it would read something like this:
Mothering the loss of Motherhood.
I’ll probably never feel the heartbeat of a growing fetus inside my uterine walls.
Most likely never experience the surprise of pregnancy hiccups causing my insides to jump.
There is no tiny baby growing inside this belly’s warmth being prepared for a world promising
wonder and detecting the fullness of turning full term
I’ll probably never be told, “WOW, you have that pregnancy glow.”
and leave feeling this time they were right.
I’ll probably never hear the sound of my newborn baby crying, screeching,
and screaming from the sense of being alive;
Lying like a floppy rag doll on my wet chest
Tears’ flowing from a new mother’s eyes
for alas the ‘love of her life’ has finally arrived.
I’ll probably never experience, what I hear is a feeling like non-other
the glory of having my heart ripped in two and then put back together again
I’ll probably never know what it’s like to send my kindergartner off to school for the first time.
or stand at the bus stop waving goodbye as the wheels turn away from my neighborhood
There will be no preparation for school lunches or first dances, and flower shop corsage to purchase for prom.
No superhero themed birthday cake with wax candles to lick;
Nor collages of pictures around the fireplace mantle from school picture proofs
I’ll probably never be a mother in the ways my mother was a mother.
In the ways, my grandmother was a grandmother.
In the ways that, in fact, I am told matter the most.
Being so tired I can barely feel my face, eating soggy cold French fries off of little people plates.
I’ll probably never lose my memory from having him or her on my mind all the time.
Suffer mama regretted moments of disciplining him or her in a crowd
No scary Emergency room visits, and exciting new puppy tales to tell
And for that, I can grieve for the mother in me who wipes crumbs from the mouths.
of children who sit next to her at restaurants where children under five are allowed
I hold my belly in the fold of my fingers pinching my thick skin,
Cascading on memories of the many children lives I’ve been kindly asked
to serve as Auntie, Big Sister, and Teacher
No one may ever call me Ma, Mama, Moms or Mother
Or ever experience the heart-tugging fear of losing my baby girl in the aisles of a big box store.
only to have her to find me when minutes seem like hours
no, perhaps never…
However, I have me, and that’s significant and worthy of value and living and mothering.