For all the women who are not mothers…. on Mother’s Day

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……

We know.

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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For all the women who are not mothers…. on Mother’s Day — 42 Comments

  1. Jani I too woke up with these exact feelings in my heart. I was going to write a post about these very sentiments in my blog today too, perhaps i still will, but for now, you have spoken them for me and for many others. Thank you xx

  2. I would love to hear your thoughts, Melissa – we each have our own very different stories to tell. Although this post is written from the ‘us’ and ‘we’ perspective, that is more to express solidarity than to speak for other women. It’s also worded that way to make it known that ONE (or more) of these reasons are my reasons too, without revealing information about myself and my family that is super private. x

  3. Beautifully written, thank you!
    Even though I have come to terms my own situation, and am overall very happy in my life, there will always be a vast and gaping hole in my soul xx
    Janie x

  4. I am another woman who has and never will experience the joy of motherhood. I live with a mental illness and did not want my illness to impact on a child. I have cried a few times over the years especially when a new niece and nephew have arrived.

  5. Geeez Jani!!! You are so gawd damn gorgeous and so gawd damn full of gorgeousness!!! You mother all of us through your lovely courses!! You’ve got such a MAMA of a heart!!! xxxx

  6. Thank you, Jani. When I was young I said I wanted 6 kids. Then I found out that because of my health, that might not be such a great idea. Later I came to my own realization that it was just not going to happen, for several of the reasons you named, mostly choices. Not necessarily easy choices but I feel they are the right choices, at least for me.
    You beautifully expressed how I have felt for years. I think we deserve a day, too.

  7. Beautiful. Motherhood is not necessity, not essential. My not-mother friends are as valued to me as any and no one needs to justify that, whether it was by choice, tragedy or just bad luck. Appreciate and love you all.

  8. Your post is spot on. I loved every word you wrote. You spoke to my heart and soul. Ironic it may be as I am a mother with two children. I’ve had to make peace with the never having a Hallmark moment Mother’s Day as portrayed on TV, in the movies, plays or other ways it’s displayed for the world to see. It’s taken a long time for me to make peace with the grasp that autism has on my children and I want to thank you for validating that peace with what you wrote.

  9. Thanks so much for letting me know about how you feel, I’m very moved by this. Mothering is not what the media portray at all, I guessed that a while back – it’s both more lovely, and more difficult, than I can imagine!

  10. Thanks! I’m blessed to be able to do what I do, it certainly is as fulfilling as mothering children, for me 🙂

  11. Wow, this is so spot on! It’s very hard sometimes, especially being at the end of my twenties, when most of the people my age are starting families, to be continually asked when it is going to be my turn. I am in a loving relationship, have been for the past ten years give or take. But we have made no plans, and I have never had an urge to bear children. Being around my niece or nephew sometimes makes me feel guilty as I can appreciate them and love them but it never makes me feel like I want to have one myself. And I feel like I am letting down the grandparents who want to see my boyfriend have a child. But as I said, I just don’t want to do it. Sigh. Thanks for sharing this Jani. xxx

  12. Dearest Jani – not sure how I only saw this today at the top of my newsfeed and not on Mother’s Day……..

    However – as always it is perfect timing.

    As I sit here ready to teach the final day of the 9 month Teacher Training course I run each year – feeling raw – vulnerable – joyous – proud – ready to watch 15 beautiful souls fly onward, continuing their journey. At this time I am always reminded of the fact that I was never able to give birth to my own child. As I watch the birth of these beautiful spiritual beings that I have loved and nurtured over this 9 month process – I am reminded of my own loss.

    So thank you Jani for the balm that was needed this morning. I came to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t have my own children many years ago, but woke this morning with THAT feeling – it comes sometime – then it goes……….


  13. This is beautifully and sensitively written and speaks so gently to the hearts of all women. I am there in that mix of women you have described and through your words I feel a connection and solidarity with all women whatever their experience, whatever their choice. A teary start to a Sunday morning but an inspiring one too. Thank you Jani-braveheart.

  14. Tears streaming down my cheeks reading. I’ve had two little ones in my womb, but no happy motherhood story to tell. All i can feel is pain. I just so wanted the very best for both of them even though one of them was only in my womb for 9

  15. Said so much, for something I didn’t even realise I felt, THAT feeling put into words, thank youx