I think a lot of kids grow up playing house and dreaming that someday they will have children of their own. As a child, I believed the same. The oldest of eight children, I grew up in a religion that is very family oriented. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I, of course, said a mom.
In 1999, I married a wonderful man. We decided to wait a bit before children. But a few years later I found out my lower back was broken, and I would never be able to carry a child. I was heartbroken, and became angry and bitter, crying when people told me they were pregnant. Mother’s Day was very hard, and I dreaded the question ‘when are you having children?’ I was frustrated with God for giving me a broken body.
One day I prayed and asked God to provide me the opportunity to influence a child. I knew I would have been a good mother and had so much to offer children. Be careful what you pray for. At the time, I was so focused on me and my sadness I did not stop to think how many children I was already helping.
Looking back on who influenced who I am today, yes, my parents did. But it was also church leaders, teachers, aunts, and uncles. I decided I wanted to be that person in someone else’s life. That decision lead me to start a small business teaching children to sew. I am a 5th-grade teachers aide and I also help in the after school 4-H program teaching sewing.
I help in my local church groups. And I know I make a difference in the children’s lives. They have taught me that helping any child is a huge blessing, and doing so has filled that void for me.
It does take a village to raise a child. There was a choice to be made. I could either spend my life angry or be part of that village. I believe it is a blessing to help any child we encounter.
And I also realized being angry at others who have children, or angry at children isn’t how I wanted to live. Just because I can’t have children does not mean others should not. A child that I bare does not define me. How I treat other people and children does define me.
Today, I have a good life with my husband and two fur babies. Is every day easy? No, but I am learning to love me and the life that I have.
Are you subscribed to the Newsletter? Read below for a snippet, and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Let’s face it, not all of us are in a relationship. Not all of us will celebrate Valentine’s Day with that significant other over a candlelit dinner.
Not all of us have little people to buy cards and chocolates for. BUT, we are still valid and valuable. I hope you have relationships where you feel valued, and where you value someone else. Whether that is a best friend, a sibling, a parent, or nieces and nephews.
Those are all valued and beautiful relationships. Do not take them for granted!
What does crisis mode mean to you? I believe it means something bad has happened or is about to happen to an individual or group of people.
I Googled the word Crisis, and this is what I found:
That last point is intense. ‘…indicating either recovery or death.’ Death is not always literal. Do you think a woman who finds out she will never have a child could go into crisis mode? Do you think she could die without dying, just checking out of the rest of her life?
I asked that question on Reddit, ‘could finding out you will not be able to have children send you into crisis mode?’ I got one response: ‘humbly, no.’
I respect that opinion. But I believe we are all guilty of the fact that we do not think deeply enough about most issues or most questions we are asked. To be fair, I did not ask this on Reddit, but what if the woman’s marriage, livelihood, even her safety, depends on whether she had a child or not? Could it be a crisis then?
Consider this: A landslide in a faraway land killing hundreds of people is sad. We feel bad for the survivors who lost loved ones and now must rebuild. But unless we were in the middle of that landslide, feeling bad about the situation is about all we can do. Jumping on a plane and going to help any way we could, might be a bit much and most likely unaffordable for most of us. Besides, isn’t that what organizations like The Red Cross is for?
If we think about all the very sad and scary situations going on in the world right now, we could become overwhelmed, maybe even immobilized or depressed, right? Don’t we have enough to deal with in our own lives?
By now you are probably asking ‘what does she want me to do about any of the world’s situations, or about the woman who cannot have children? Good question, because really, what can you do. It is her problem. We can feel sorry for her, but that would be about all we could do. And besides, how is a woman in danger because she cannot have children, why would she be in danger just from being childless?
Most of us do not realize that in 2017, it could be dangerous for a woman to not be able to bear a child. Living in the Western world, a childless woman can, for the most part, go through life unscathed by the shame, fear, and stigma of being childless. She would most likely not be beaten by her husband, divorced, or shamed by her husband’s family.
Sometimes we miss what is going on in the rest of the world because we are just too busy with our own lives. And to be fair, that is a worldwide phenomenon. We think the rest of the world operates like our world, our country. And honestly, most times we just cannot be concerned with an issue that does not resonate with us. That may be viewed as selfish, but I do not think that is the case. Life is short, and we just cannot pick up the sword for every cause.
But may I suggest that though we cannot pay attention to every issue, every cause, that we can at least be aware. We can put ourselves in that person’s shoes even as we go about our day and about our lives. We could at least empathize. I believe awareness and empathy make us more human. And being more human makes us less mean, less hateful, and even less scornful.
Scorn. Not a word we hear very often. But it tends to happen when we look down on someone who does not could not have the thing or things we have, with contempt. The thing about contempt is that life has a way of taking turns. We could end up in the very situation for which we had contempt.
May I suggest that as we make our way through life, let us remember to be kind, empathetic, and aware.
How could I possibly be two years into building a platform created to help women who are childless not by choice feel better about themselves? Feel better about their lives? Many of you know, my byline: ‘Living a joyful and relevant life although childless not by choice.’
It all started a few days before Mother’s Day. It always does. I thought I had gotten over the feelings of loss enough to make it through Mother’s Day without feeling like a second-class citizen when the pastor asked all the mothers to stand, as I remained seated. It’s a feeling only childless not by choice women could understand. At least the ones who are not over the pain. Because I hear tell there are childless not by choice women who are ‘over it’.
My brother said, ‘maybe one day you will realize how many people you have helped.’ He just could not understand how I could feel this way after telling him how the platform was finally taking a hold and growing.
My good friend said ‘you are not a fraud. Your primary audience is the women who feel the way you do. How could you talk to them if you did not understand how they feel?’ Then she recounted the multiple organizations and platforms that were created out of someone’s grief. I understood what she was saying. I understood what they both were saying. But will there ever come a Mother’s Day when my heart will be OK with remaining seated while all around me mothers stand up and accept their due recognition?
How could I possibly encourage childless not by choice people when my heart still breaks on Mother’s Day. It’s not too bad the other 364 days of the year. And I do not want to dim the light of recognition for mothers. After all, I have a mother. And every day I am thankful for her. But the fact is, the way God answered my prayers, my begging, my deal-making, was to not answer. Healing did not come. The adoption did not come. Honestly, I would have been more than OK with never marrying if I had had the child. But to hit a brick wall every turn I took was hard.
How am I supposed to convince other women that we can live relevant and joyful lives when I still battle sadness and a broken heart? How could I not be a fraud? But I am not. I am not because I battle those feelings and I help the childless not by choice anyway demographic anyway. When I battle and help, I am being transparent. And there is no such thing as a transparent fraud.