by Camela Thompson
There were some pretty choice rants about Mother's Day on my Facebook feed this weekend. I found it odd that the majority were by mothers. A few felt that those of us who choose not to be mothers are slighted by the holiday and are made to feel like we are less of a woman. As someone who has made this choice, I disagree. I also saw people talking about their estrangement from their mother or about how much they miss their mother who has since passed on. There are more women out there who want to have children and can't, or have felt a loss greater than I can ever imagine. It reminded me that all holidays are fraught with emotion--veritable minefields that dredge up memories that are both pleasant and horrifying.
This Mother's Day I felt profoundly lucky. I feel blessed to have a mother I am close with, and doubly lucky because I can still enjoy the day with my grandmother. That sounds bleak now that I've typed it out, but she has progressed through her octogenarian years with the same feisty humor I have always seen in her. All three of us are flawed. Some of those flaws have been unintentionally passed down. The wit, creativity, stubbornness, and weird twist we all put on the world are qualities that have served me well. I love them very much and am glad there is a day that reminds me to thank them.
My beautiful mom and I on vacation. The shades were fashion forward.
I will never have children. In a city where cats outnumber dogs and dogs outnumber children by nearly 2:1, it's not something I get a lot of flak about. Sure, there's always that friend who is so busy basking in the glory of her choice to be a mother that unintentional barbs get thrown out (my favorite? "you don't know what it's like to be a woman until you've gone through the miracle of childbirth"). For the most part, I've noticed women defending their choice to be parents. In a country hyper-focused on profitability and hours spent at the office, they have to fight for every day they get off. The work culture tends to mow over moms, and doesn't give them much room if something were to go wrong. I don't fully understand their pain, but I know their treatment is wrong.
There are a lot of reasons why we decided not to have children. I have systemic lupus and have had days where I needed help taking care of myself. I couldn't imagine hearing the cry of my child on a day where I couldn't even dress myself (that hasn't happened for a very long time *knock on wood*). The hormone fluctuations that come with having a child can knock lupus patients into a tailspin. My doctors have warned me that it would be best not to have kids, but they would support me if I felt I needed to have kids. The reason why I'm totally okay with all of this even though I pictured myself with a minivan and three kids by this age? I never caught "baby fever." The biological drive to procreate didn't crush me over the head. Occasional twinges aside, I am not maternal. I love my nieces and nephews fiercely, but that's enough for me. I thought my neighbor's squalling infant was a dying cat for God's sake.
My grandparents and one of my grandmother's paintings.
I don't feel that my decision not to have kids makes me any less of a woman. How I feel about this on a visceral level is what matters, not the opinions of others. I'm lucky that I'm happy with how things worked out. THIS is the heart of the matter. If I was miserable about the cards I've been dealt in life, it would be a different story. I'd also like to add that being able to spend a Saturday any way I wish without interruptions is pretty damn cool. I can sit and read FOR HOURS. I can play video games. My dog is happy to lie at my side and nap throughout. Every weekend contains personal holidays for me. I don't need a Woman Without Children Day.
I watch mothers frantically hovering over their kids. The weight they carry is tremendous. Not only do they have to make sure their kids are safe and fed, but they also are responsible for growing them into a functional adult. Personalities and genetics can fight this outcome. Hard. And if it goes wrong, they are the people we blame in addition to the person who actually committed the crime. That is a hell of a lot of responsibility.
This non-mom encourages you all to celebrate the holiday as you wish. I choose to celebrate my mother and grandmother. This holiday was never about me, and I'm happy keeping it that way. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go play video games without interruption.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.