I’m not a mother. I do not know if I will ever be a mother. In high school and college, I nannied and volunteered at a local preschool. In my nascent fascination with human psychology, I poured through parenting books, determined to understand myself and my family’s dynamic.
I am neither vehemently convinced I will mother a child, nor determined not to. I simply do not know. I am, as they say, on the fence.
Some friends have discouraged me from it. “I love my kid, but it is so hard. Don’t do it. Honestly, don’t do it.” Others respond with, “but you’d be such a great mother!”
Everyone, it seems, is invested. Everyone has an opinion. Even though I am currently single.
“Oh you’ll meet someone and change your mind,” is the other response I get.
Maybe. Maybe not. I do not know. I’m comfortable not knowing. I find it a relief. All I know is that it isn’t up for public consumption or debate. Having a child, raising a child is an extremely personal decision. I have wrestled with my own childhood forever. And although I am no longer angry with my parents, I am not sure it’s something I want to revisit. Should I choose to, I know I will give it everything I have. But it’s a giant commitment and I know that.
Does that make me a monster? Or a selfish human being? I don’t think so. I think it makes me human.
It also makes me a target for projection. Any response other than “you’ll know what’s right for you” is a projection. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the person spouting their opinion.
To be a mother is to love and nurture. So why is it that I see a culture of mothers doing anything but nurturing other women, myself included?
“I just birthed a book,” a friend recently shared, laughing. But there is a truth there and it made me think about birthing and mothering in general.
If we stepped back, we would see that the process of creation, whether that of a human being, a business, a project or a creative endeavor is a universal experience. And it could very well unite us. We could use the same energy we’re using to divide us, to support one another.
Because the judgment and ridicule has gotten out of hand. We’re tearing each other apart and for what? To be a mother is to love unconditionally, to give of oneself, to support and nourish. The irony is that by ripping other women apart for their choices, we’re actually working against our instincts. As women, we thrive in community and we all benefit from having a diverse set of women in our midst.
As a single, childless woman, I can actually support and hold space for my friends who are mothers. I can babysit their children so they can enjoy a night out. I can be a helping hand and loving source of support, without my own child tugging at my knee.
Even if that weren’t the case, if I didn’t love children, would I be wrong?
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, whether you’re happiest at home with 6 children or got your tubes tied at 25, you’re entitled to your experience.
Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.