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"You're more of a mother than most women with children. People use this 'mother' title to feel value within themselves not realizing it's the capacity to love that makes you a true woman."
Wise words from a very wise soul who I am blessed to know and love.
These words came to me in response to a short article I had posted on my personal Facebook page last night because it struck a cord when I read it at midnight. It was about the value of "Aunts" in children's lives (Aunts who don't have kids of their own). It talked about how some people can't have kids and other choose not to but that women who don't have children still add value to a child's life. I posted it because I feel the judgment that the article talks about a lot. At 37 most of my friends have started families (even the ones who said they never would) and so my list of 'non-parent' friends is very small. I posted it more to vent and express my dismay that this judgment still happens. I never expected anyone to respond to it. I certainly didn't expect to be moved to tears by someone who I love pointing out to me that even though I don't have kids of my own, my ability to love those around me makes me so valuable to her and the world we live in.
I have always been that girl, the one who would give up the shirt on her back to help someone else. The one who would pick up and move to a different city to help someone I loved. The woman who spends her last $20 on food for a homeless person. I care a lot about the world I live in. The people who inhabit this world and the way I interact with them. My heart grows a little anytime someone I love finds happiness or has children of their own. That is just who I am.
I've spent almost a year now struggling with the idea of kids. I was told at 19 I would never have my own children. At the time I spent a year crying, angry, numb because I had spent my whole life up to that point thinking I would be a mother someday. I come from a very large family with a lot of children. I was surrounded by Aunts who were always having kids. From the first time I can remember, there was always a baby on the way or one that had just arrived.
When I was little and knew nothing of the world of adulting, I always thought I would have babies right alongside my cousins (who are more like sisters) as they had their babies. Our kids would have the life we had as we were growing up. Granted I was six or seven and didn't know or understand fully what having a baby really involved aside from feedings and diapers. This was just how I saw my life back then. As I got older and started to understand the real world, I knew I did not want to be a teenage parent like my parents were. I began to understand just how hard that was so I did everything I could to avoid that life for myself.So when I found out that ever having children wasn't really an option for me it took a long time for me to find a way to deal with that. I thought I was okay with it after a while. I sort of just accepted my fate and moved forward. People around me had babies. Family, friends they all started their own family's and I got to be an Aunt to more kids than I ever could have imagined. I got to help people I love bring children into this world and show them love, teach them respect for those around them and themselves. Granted I don't get to see them all as much as sometimes I wish I could, I still would give my life for any of them. I love them all that much.
Over the last year I've been looking into fertility options and trying to find out if I can, someday have my own children. Technology and medical science has changed a lot in the last twenty years and since I'm not getting any younger so I thought I better take a serious look at my options. Right now my feelings about this whole "kids" thing are very raw. For people who don't know, if you struggle with infertility and you want kids, or the option someday to have kids of your own, you better have very deep pockets because most healthcare systems and drug plans don't pay for anything. If you're looking to freeze your eggs you better have a minimum of $20,000 set aside just to start the process (not something people who live paycheque to paycheque can really manage).
If I wanted to get pregnant today, the government here would help to cover some of those costs but not all of them. Not to mention I currently have no interest in having a baby today because I know that financially I am in no place to do so. That doesn't stop the feeling of somehow being inadequate because so many people view being a parent as the only real purpose in life.
So seeing that message this morning, knowing that the people around me who do have children do appreciate me and my capacity to love them and their kids, makes me feel like less of a failure in life. The reality is no matter how hard you try, as a woman, you do feel like a failure the minute you are told "You can't have kids". The world we live in treats you like you are a failure if you can't have kids or if you choose not to have children. People around you judge you if you don't have kids.
Even if I choose to spend $20,000+ to try to have my own children some day, there is no guarantee that it will work. Before you start messaging me about other ways to have kids like adoption, I am fully aware of what my options are. As a daughter of a child who was adopted I am fully aware of that path and what it involves. Frankly I'm sick of hearing from people who don't understand the struggle to be able to conceive. You have no idea what it feels like as a woman to not have the choice. You have no idea what it feels like to have the choice and still choose to not do it and the judgment that follows.
We are all in need of better understanding, caring and less judgment towards others in this matter. For people who can't have kids, who choose not to have kids and even those who aren't sure, we all need to be less judgemental. We all need to be more like the beautiful woman who messaged me this morning to tell me that in her eyes, even without kids of my own, I am a value to her and her child. I am someone who gives to others, who teaches others. I am of value to those around me who have children and those who don't.
Everyone was put on this earth for a different reason, something they need to give the world, something to teach the world, something that will change the world. This includes people who don't have kids. People who choose or don't choose it doesn't matter. We all still have value. We all still have things to give to this world.
I hope by the time the babies I know who were born recently are my age, we live in a world where this judgment no longer exists and we value every soul who touches our lives with as much grace and respect as we currently give to parents