You Are Not Defined By Your Mothering Status
“You’ll regret it someday.”
“Don’t you feel like you’re missing something?”
“Oh, you really don’t want children?”
These are statements I’ve heard numerous times over the years, and they are phrases that remind me of a harsh truth: I am an abnormal thirty-one-year-old, at least by social standards.
Looking at me, though, you might not know it.
I’m married to the love of my life, a man I met at the age of twelve. I’m a teacher and an author with a small house in our quaint hometown. We don’t have a white picket fence, but we have a chain-link fence that reins in our mastiff, Henry. I love shopping, coffee, and time with my few friends I keep close.
Our life isn’t the thing of flashy romantic movies. We go grocery shopping on weekends, and we are always drowning under piles of laundry and dishes. Date night usually means Netflix and pizza in sweatpants.
In short, my life is nothing extraordinary.I am your average, brown-haired woman who hasn’t quite mastered walking in heels or winged eyeliner.
I’m average in every way, except one: married and thirty-one, I don’t have children, and I don’t know if I ever want to.
I’ve never had what I call the mothering gene. While many other females my age crave the feeling of a newborn in their arms, oohing and awing over our friends’ babies, I am the woman, uncomfortable and awkward, standing in the corner praying no one passes the child to me. I don’t get any excitement when I walk past infant clothes in the mall, and the thought of being responsible for a child slightly repulses me if I’m being honest.
My husband and I have found a sense of joy, of purpose, and fulfillment without children. We are happy. We feel at peace. We don’t feel like we’re missing anything.
But it seems like society is quick to judge us, to define us, and to berate us for our choice.
Over the years, there’s a sense of guilt that has been pushed on us for our life choice. From strangers’ nosy questions about our childfree life to acquaintances accusing us of being selfish, we have both taken heat for not producing offspring. I have even had students’ parents question my abilities to teach because of my lack of children.
On a bigger scale, numerous blogs, articles, and speakers seem to tout the notion that a childfree life is less somehow, and then it will be filled with regret, sorrow, and unfulling days.
When I’ve written articles about being childfree and the bias that is present against women in my situation, I often faced backlash. I’ve been accused of attacking motherhood and of inventing a bias that some claim doesn’t exist.
Through it all, I’ve learned that despite critics’ words, there is clearly a subdivision between the haves and the have nots when it comes to motherhood--and I think that is the greatest disservice we can do in terms of female empowerment.
The bottom line is this: I am not defined by my mothering status, nor are you.
Our choices when it comes to motherhood certainly impact who we become and our journey. However, it is not the only defining factor in our lives as women. Our society has thankfully moved beyond the years where a woman’s worth is only measured by her ability to reproduce. Some of us are mothers, and some of us are not. But beyond that, we are so many other things. We are leaders, friends, bosses, dreamers, inventors, nurturers, motivators, and artists. We are all made up of a multitude of specialties, skills, attitudes, dreams, and personalities.
To define us by one aspect of our lives isn’t fair to any of us. As women, we are so much more than one choice, one life path, and one status.
Thus, I say this:
To those who are mothers--I respect the hell out of you and your journey.
To those who are not mothers--I respect the hell out of you and your journey.
Your choices as a woman, your life’s journey to your own version of fulfillment, and the status of your family do not define your value in society.
Find your own way, find your own joy, and don’t let anyone tell you the path you chose is less, children or not.
Lindsay Detwiler is an author with Avon Books/HarperCollins UK and a high school English teacher. She has thirteen romances released with Hot Tree Publishing, including Inked Hearts. Her novel, The Widow Next Door, released in November of 2018 and remained at #1 in Horror on the Amazon charts for weeks. Learn more by visiting her Facebook.
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