“So is it children or love that you really want?” asked a close friend as we sat cupping small glasses of tea in our hands on an unusually bleak Byron Bay day. We were discussing the overwhelming response I’d received to my Mother’s Day post on Debrief Daily, which examined what it was like to be childless on Mother’s Day.
Everything about the feedback made me realise that we as women need to talk more about this other side of motherhood. It’s an important and sensitive topic that needs healthy airplay.
“Both,” I answered eventually, as I pondered, for the umpteenth time that week, what being a mother means to me.
I knew where my friend was coming from when she posed that question to me. She was checking that I wasn’t just wanting kids to fill a gap in my life, desiring them only for the promise of unconditional love.
On my dining table at home are two little angels: a gift from a friend last year in celebration of my ongoing health recovery. One is called ‘dreams’, the other ‘miracles’. When I look at these two little angelic beings I can’t help but think that for many of us women the birth of a child is essentially the collision of dreams and miracles.
Although probably the most natural thing on earth - after all every creature does it - and therefore not technically a miracle, the birth of a child seems to me the most supernatural of experiences. A little being, a little person, comes out of the centre of you. How more miraculous can life get?
I feel sad when I hear other women downplay our childbearing role, when they feel relegated to a procreator and question why we are seen primarily as ‘fertile soil’. What's to downplay about literally being responsible for creation? Personally, I can’t see a more powerful role on earth.
For me, and many of the other women I spoke to as a result of this article, there is a gap in our lives. But it is not that of desiring unconditional love, rather of having not fulfilled this legacy of ours. As one woman wrote to me, “Your story is our story, illness or no illness. Whatever circumstances have led to women not having children its a shared barren experience with a fear for the future with no legacy. I’m sure it will resonate with millions, not thousands.”