Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sometimes I Feels Like a Childless Mother

Hi, my name is Barb, and I'm a failure.

This Sunday I won't be celebrated, I won't receive cards and gifts... and that's okay with me.


I have never given birth. It simply wasn't in the cards that the gods hold in my personal poker game. There was about ten minutes in my early thirties when I felt really sad about it, but life moved on. I've had many children in my life that I've loved, and still do. I have loved all of my siblings' children with great passion. I care deeply about them and about what happens in their lives. I was a nanny for two wonderful boys, now equally wonderful grown men. They are still in my heart, and we still keep in touch. There are even occasional sleepless moments when I wonder if they're okay, when I hope that I did a more than adequate job in helping to raise them. My heart has been full of love for children.

And yet...

I feel guilty for having enjoyed, yes, really enjoyed, a life without my own children. For the most part, I've been able to do what I want to, go where I want to, spend money the way I want to, and live where I want to. I feel sad when I see children who are lacking good parents because I think, "I would have been a great Mom." Sometimes it hurts a little when my Mom talks about her grandchildren and I think, "I never gave her one to talk about." One of the first things people ask when we meet is, "Do you have kids?" I always feel a little ashamed to say, "No."

I thought I was over it all, but now that I'm 48 years old, many of my peers have taken it to a new level and are joyfully announcing new daughters and sons in-law, and grandbaby births. I'll never get to do that either. My line ends with me. There won't be any future children saying, as I do, "I get this talent from my Grandmother."

There is a whole host of not-so-good feelings that go along with "being childless." Ugh. I hate that phrase.

The thing I hate most is when people say things like, "Oh, you wouldn't know... you don't have kids." I do know. I know that kind of fierce love, and I know that kind of connection. I've simply been deprived of lavishing it on a full-time basis. Instead, I've developed a nurturing (I think) spirit when it comes to those in my circle. I have a deep sense of responsibility toward my friends, toward ensuring that they're happy and healthy. Sometimes I feel like a childless mother.

To all those women who, whether by choice or by design, have not born children... we are okay. There is nothing wrong with us. We are not flawed. We have not failed. We are still women. We are still feminine. We still have every bit as much to give the world as anyone else. We still count and we still matter. Happy Not-A-Mother Day to us.

~Motherless Child, John Legend


  1. I love Judy Collins' version of this song.
    I have a lot to say on the subject of which you write, but it does not belong on a blog comment.
    Maybe I will put it in an email. Maybe...

  2. Please do. The whole time I was writing it, I was thinking... "what will Dana say...?"

  3. This is an EXCELLENT Mother's Day post. You have expressed your feelings very well. I can relate to what you say (even though I had kids) because I was childless for a long time and went through all this too.

    I also agree that you do not have to have your own children to be a good mother. You are very lucky to have so many people in your life to care about. And, they are even more fortunate to have you.

    Thanks for a touching Mother's Day post.

  4. i agree with Anne - you may not have mothered your own children, but you have still been a mother. And you're important and matter to those that you've loved in that way.
    And we all have these kinds of thoughts - i'll tell you a dark little secret that i'll bet more parents share than admit - every now and then, us parents wonder what our lives would have been without children. i myself mourned a little for my dream job (travel photographer) that i didn't persue after having Z. But ofcourse, i wouldn't trade one second with him for anything, so it works out. Just saying, the grass is always greener.


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