I am one of the 143.4 million women in the United States who is not a mother.* According to the latest information from the U.S. Census Bureau, 85.4 million women were mothers in 2008.** That’s the latest data I could find. That’s over half and yes, I’m probably mixing percentages here, but it appears that most women are mothers.
But that’s not what this blog is about and I hesitated to write about it, but I thought what the heck. I’m a minority here and I know there are others like me, I just don’t know very many women in my age group that aren’t mothers.
The Times They are a-Changin’
Birth rates in the U.S. have decreased slightly over the past few years — down three percent in 2011 from 2010. Read more about here. I’m not sure about the reasons; probably more women are waiting before they make that commitment, there’s less people getting married (the “normal” standard for having a child) and the family dynamic is changing. Any “family unit” with love, encouragement and support constitutes a family in my book. But that’s not what this blog is about.
The Ultimate Experience for a Woman
Most women who are mothers talk about that unshakable, unconditional love they have for their children. They’ve housed the precious beings for nine months inside their bodies. That’s gotta be a bond stronger than anything I could ever imagine. (That’s not to say men do not love or feel a very close bond to their children — I know they do — see above statement about family unit).
It turned out, for reasons I won’t go into, I’m childless. I envy women who’ve experienced that glow, that satisfied, God-like rapture that they created life. All my friends from high school are mothers; my sisters are and most of the women I know are. After a woman reaches a certain age, people (unknowingly) start to view you, if you’re childless, as to why that is. This isn’t a demographic thing, this is a universal thing, at least in my experience.
There are awkward moments and conversations when you first meet someone. They go something like this:
People with children: So, what do you do?
Childless woman: I work at blah, blah, blah or I do blah, blah, blah.
People with children: Do you have children?
Childless woman: No.
People with children: Smile and waiting.
Childless woman: Smile back, silent.
Although that ship has sailed for me, I still find myself in those awkward moments. Surely, I have a child in high school or about to get into college. No. Just me. And my husband. I feel, well, incomplete and a need to explain. I’ve stopped the explaining part.
I once worked for a horrible boss that said to me: When women don’t have children, they get all dried up and look bad when they get older. I’m not kidding, but that was long ago and another story. That’s not what this blog is about.
What This Blog is About
I think there is a rhyme, rhythm and reason to the workings of the universe. Things we can’t comprehend in our human state of being. Some women are meant to be mothers in the traditional sense while others — for whatever the reason — just can’t or choose not to have children. I’m finally beginning to be okay with that.
Still, I watch my nieces and nephews grow and accomplish milestones and the pride and love of their mothers’ faces are, well, kind of beatific, rapturous, God-like. As if they possess some deep, ancient secret that comes from giving birth. The same can be said for mothers who’ve adopted children.
Maybe I’ll create life in another life.
I’ve been around children all my life. I was the babysitter when I was in high school and everyone used to say: You’re going to be a great mother. I’ve worked for wonderful, world-renowned childrens’ organizations and seen up close and personal the true mettle of what being a mother is. It was rewarding and heartbreaking — two things I know every mother has experienced.
This blog isn’t about poor me, I’m not a mother. It’s about women who, in some capacity fill that role, whether they’ve given birth or not. It’s our nurturing instinct I think.
I often wonder who is going to “take care” of me when I grow old and gray.
Who is going to be there when I take my last breaths? I corralled my nephew the last time I visited my family and asked him: Will you take care of me? Will you be my person?
Sweet, wonderful young man that he is, he smiled and said, Yes, Brigitte I will take care of you.
Still, I think I’m going to get that in writing.
*Nationalatlas.gov findings, Gender in the United States.
**U.S. Census Bureau, Profile America Facts for Features.