For all the women who are not Mothers, on Mothers Day.
I woke up thinking of us, the not-Mothers.
The ones of us who won’t get breakfast in bed, burnt toast and cold eggs made by clumsy little hands. Not a hand drawn card, or a hastily bought bunch of flowers, or daffodils from the garden. We won’t get a long distance phonecall from a grown child off travelling, or at Uni – or a Special Lunch Out. Not today, at least.
The women who are asked the question, again and again – ‘when?’ and ‘why not?’ as if there was something terribly wrong with us.
Sometimes, even we think that might be true. As if there was some secret we’ve not been let in on.
The ultimate sacrament of childbirth, birthing you into full womanhood. Like we missed an important final exam and can’t get the certificate that says
‘Yes, you are a Grown Up Woman now’.
|Detail from ‘Red Tent Goddess’ painting by Jani Franck|
Even though that’s not true, of course.
This is for the women whose wombs just wouldn’t, couldn’t, start to grow a life.
For those who felt life growing, perhaps many times – but those tiny ones slip away so easily.
Sometimes, we have to choose to let the tiny ones go, because we are not ready for them.
And nobody remembers the really tiny ones, except for us. Especially today.
For the ones who went through the terrible lottery of fertility treatment – and didn’t win the prize.
For the women who just didn’t meet the right father, at the right time.
For the women who find it’s too late, for the Crone comes to sit with us all, gently holding our hands as the bleeding slows and stops – much sooner than we were expecting her.
For the women who love a man who cannot father children. This is a silent sorrow, for it’s not our secret to tell or solely our pain to bear.
For the women who love a man who doesn’t want to be father, and who after many tearful all-night conversations, make our peace with this.
For the women who love women, whose love can make everything but new life. Not yet, anyway.
For Transgender women.
For the ones who decided that our beloved vocation, our calling, wouldn’t allow us to be Mothers, too. A hateful, painful choice few men have ever had to make.
For the ones who think that seven billion (and counting) of us is probably quite enough, and couldn’t bring ourselves to ask Mother Earth to feed another little mouth.
For the ones who can’t afford to give a child what it needs, perhaps materially, perhaps emotionally – perhaps both. Who loved our imagined little ones enough to make that choice.
The women who have lost a child. You will always be a mother, though you get no card today.
The women who simply never felt it was quite right for us, without even quite understanding why.
We women who have noticed friends and relatives drift away after having children. The friends of years vanishing into a bubble of motherhood. Leaving us with no children in our immediate circle to give us the company of little ones at least, because it’s fun to hang out with little ones.
The ones who feel joy, of course – but also a deep, unspoken sorrow, when we watch one of our sisters glowing with pregnant bliss, or breastfeeding a little one, or catching the look of perfect love between a mother and child.
Of course it does hurt, sometimes.
Whatever our reasons for having none of our own.
We women who know, of course, that we do so many, other, valuable things.
We are the women who mother other women’s children, who are the birth mother of businesses, projects, ideas, gardens, animals, vocations, art, books, poems, blogs, scientific research, films, communities, causes and so much else……
That being a mother is just one way to be a woman.
Just one way, but one way that is held up as an impossible ideal – even for mothers. The perfect Mama. The perfect woman.
This isn’t because I want your sympathy. Because I don’t, we don’t, especially not today. This one little post, today, isn’t for all the lovely Mothers.
The Mothers I do respect and celebrate, and admire. I wonder daily how you do the amazing, important, difficult job you do. We should give you flowers every day.
Today, this is for the ones who are still waiting.
For the ones who know the waiting is over.
This is for you. This is for us.
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