Not having children need not define us

Dear readers,

About a month ago, I posted “Beyond Childlessness, Life Goes on.” I have gotten some great responses. I want to share with you this comment from Anon S that came in yesterday. I’m laid up with back problems this week, and Anon says it more eloquently than I can, so I yield this week’s space to her. Enjoy. –Sue

There are several older women in my hometown that I see on a regular basis who do not have children. One is happily married and is always doing fun things with her husband. They seem to have a lot of friends and do lots of couples things. I would love to talk to her sometime to see if she is really is as happy as she seems. I want to know if she was always this happy and if not – how did she get there.

The other woman is both single and without children. She is highly respected as she serves on many community boards and is involved in about anything you can possibly be involved with in our little town. Want to volunteer at the library, call Betsy – she’s in charge. Want to know about the prayer circle at church, call Betsy – the group meets at her house once a week. Want to know when the Halloween parade for the kids takes place, call Betsy – she’s on the judging committee and has purchased the door prizes for the kids. In a small town that values marriage and family, it’s odd to have a single woman of considerable age in the mix. She doesn’t date and has never been married. She seems very happy on her own. But she doesn’t let being on her own stop her from having friends to go to dinner with, filling her days and nights with commendable community work, and being a well liked woman of our community. She is considered a blessing to many.

Too often I compare myself to others. I’m stressed about life but imagine what a mother of three feels like? “Suck it up” is what I say to myself. “Get on with it.” And then I look at these two women I just mentioned and I feel like I’m wasting my freedom from children by living small and doing little.

Stories like this post and the one of your friend who passed away are very encouraging. The things that set one mother apart from all the others are the same things that set all of us women apart, our attitudes, our hearts, the things we do for our loved ones and others. The best peach pie in the world can be made by a mother of five or by me – a busy businesswoman who likes to bake. The best dressed woman at church can be a single woman with the time and money to be a fashion plate or it could be the mother of a special needs child who takes considerable effort to raise. Those children (or lack of them) do not define us or make us better or worse at anything. We are who we are and we should not hide or “save ourselves” for motherhood.

Thank you, Anon S. Comments?


2 thoughts on “Not having children need not define us

  1. So well written. I now feel sad for the women who cannot involve me in their conversations/events/meetings, as they cannot communicate with a woman who is not a mother. I am happy to chat about nappies/breastfeeding etc; etc. However, I can also talk about other things – and that is what they cannot cope with. Whether we are a parent or not, I think it is important to have a big heart and curious mind. In my rural community it is easy to feel isolated as a woman without children, so I rely on the Internet for a global network of friends and interests


    • “I think it is important to have a big heart and curious mind.”

      I agree! I’ve got friends of all walks. Some who sit down at lunch and say, “Don’t even TRY to ask me about the kids – I’m having a beer with lunch.” They enjoy their “alone time” and prefer to talk about anything but the kids.

      Others enjoy the back and forth as we discuss our lives and are happy to share all elements of their lives, work, hobbies and yes, their kids. They are my friends – I want to know about their kids. These women also want to know about my work, my other friends, my dog, my nieces.

      It’s the women who cannot see their lives beyond their children that I worry about, too. The women who don’t recognize popular cultural references. Women who can’t leave the house for a lunch even without their kids. And yes, the women who are clearly uncomfortable chit-chatting with childless women. A few times, I have felt their reluctance to sit next to me, even though I’m a pleasant person. Once at a bridal shower, I sat next to a perfectly nice woman whom I’ve known for a while. She was “fake nice” to me – it was obvious. Soon a mutual person we both knew sat down on the other side of her. I felt the burn of listening to their kid-friendly conversation explode in front of me.

      Maybe it wasn’t personal and maybe she just doesn’t agree that I’m pleasant. But her behavior was downright rude. When I asked, “Hey there, what’s new?” and she said “nothing,” I prodded and worked hard to get a conversation going. When the other woman, a mother of a two-year-old, asked, “What’s new?” that person next to me jumped alive and chattered a mile a minute about the Disney cruise they were taking. And swim lessons, and vacation bible school. These were all things I could have easily chatted about (a cousin went to Disney recently, my niece teaches swimming lessons to little ones, and my sister-in-law is in charge of my church’s bible study program.) Certainly I could have contributed to a nice afternoon of conversation if she had only given me a chance.

      I feel your pain!!


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