What does it mean to be a childless mother?
On Mother’s Day last year I had an article published on this site describing my experiences of being childless by circumstance, not choice, at the age of 43. The article was shared widely and touched the hearts of many; women still come up to me today to tell me how much it impacted their lives.
Over the past 12 months, as I’ve integrated myself back into society after a seven year chronic illness, I’ve found myself exploring the question: “If I don’t become a traditional mother, how do I bring my motherly instincts into the world?”
How do I satisfy that inherent ‘urge’ that launching a business, traveling the world or creating a partnership just doesn’t seem to suffice?
This journey has taken me into the depths of my soul; it’s left me raw, humbled, up against brick walls and washed out like a dirty rag. It’s brought me to tears and to laughter, but most of all, it’s brought me to the truth.
In a moment of reckoning I realised it wasn’t about what I did with my life, but about the way I did those things.
It’s not that I have a career, but how I am in that career.
It’s not that I have a relationship, but what I bring to that relationship.
It’s not that I have friends, but that I care for them and treat them well.
It’s not about traveling the world, but how I compassionately connect with its inhabitants.
Mothers have a way about them; it’s an acceptance that love comes first; it’s a freedom to be giving, forgiving, compassionate, nurturing and kind.
My own mother never wants me to hurt; she would give her right (and left) arm for me not to be in pain. It’s this desire to replace the bitterness of the world with something more beautiful that epitomises mothers.
I dare say that most women are called to motherhood just so they can ‘come home’; return to the place that enables them to bring out the best of their feminine essence.
Most of my tears about not being a mother have been spent over the cries of: “But I want to know what it feels like to love my child in that unconditional way.” This plea has shattered me more times than I can count.
In our world today we define a lot of things with the words ‘my’: my family, my children, my partner, my work, my body. Following that train of thought makes us yearn more for the things we can stamp as our own.
But what if we took out the word “my”? What if ‘my children’ just became children?
This small, yet significant, switch of words would enable me to be a childless mother.
It means doing all the things a traditional mother would do, but for everyone I come into contact with, not just ‘my kids.’
It means sharing love as my number one priority.
It means holding the health and future of the world in my arms.
It means demonstrating compassion, understanding, nurturing and care in all that I am.
Although the most gratifying ‘job’ of their lives, my friends constantly tell me how difficult motherhood is and joke about how lucky I am not to be a mother.
These comments used to sting and trigger me, but now I see them for what they are; a woman’s struggle. A struggle that is actually shared by us all.
Support. Kindness. Nurturance. Humour. We can get these things from our mums, but also from our friends. (Post continues after video)
To hold the world in our hands; to love it, heal it, nurture it, nourish it, is the hardest job.
It’s hard being sensitive and to feel other people’s pain.
It’s hard holding another while they grow; hoping and praying that they will come out OK.
It’s easier to fight than to love.
It’s sometimes easier to go to work and leave behind the ceaseless demands of a ‘crying child’ than be engulfed by them.
It’s hard to love in a world that often shows us everything in its opposition.
This is motherhood; and the world mirrors it.
My heart was breaking as a childless mother, but it’s mending now as I’ve realised there are other ways to ‘come home’.
The cries of the world today echo the cries of a child.
The world desperately needs more mothers.
So to all the mothers out there (of child and not) we’ve lots of work to do.
Happy Mothers Day to all women. It’s time we celebrated this in its true capacity as a day to honour the value of every mother on the earth.
Sharon Sztar is a writer, blogger, presenter and mentor. To learn more about her journey of healing a chronic illness through lifestyle changes visit www.sharonsztar.com.