I just spent half of last week with a good friend who never had children. She wanted to have children but she married later and spent years trying in vitro and time conspired. She isn’t my only childless friend. I have two other close friends who have no children. One isn’t married and is reaching the age when it’s likely she never will have children and another is married but I’m pretty sure is childless by choice.
My best friend from high school never had children. I remember her announcing that when we were about 17 (in front of her mother who gasped and spit her Fresca all over us) and thinking that was so cool that she knew what she didn’t want, so brave of her to admit it. Recently, she told me that while she loved being a stepmother to her boyfriend’s daughter while they were dating, she still didn’t feel those need-to-have-a-baby pangs.
So what am I, a mother of three who knows how much hard work and sacrifice goes into mothering children, trying to say? I’m saying that every year as Mother’s Day approaches I find myself thinking about my childless friends and how the holiday and our culture in general marginalizes those who, for whatever reason, end up without children.
My friend visiting last week confided that the mothers in her neighborhood grow anxious once they learn she has no children. No plans to have children. How, while she tries to talk to them about gardening or movies or books, they try to talk her into adoption (even though she’s in the middle of a divorce and doesn’t want to adopt).
Which makes me think about how often she and my other childless friends must be reminded of what they don’t have. Even if they don’t want it. And then I think about how warm and nurturing and mothering all my childless friends are to their friends and family and pets, how they have mothered me over the years.
And I guess what I’m saying is, I’d like a more fluid, more inclusive definition of mother and Mother’s Day. I’d like to honor all the women who’ve mothered others.
Happy Mother’s Day All!!