Life just got in the way.
It’s random events that set me off…
Walking past a schoolyard at pick-up time, noticing the little hands entwined in the safety of a mother’s grip. A friend sending me a text cancelling lunch as her five-year-old is home sick from childcare. My own mother wistfully telling me that she wishes she could put all my dreams in a box and give them to me. Although somewhat unrelated, they all represent something I don’t understand: a mother’s love.
They beg the question – what does it feel like? What is it like to feel your child’s hand in your palm, to nurse a sick baby, or to love someone so much that your dreams revolve around them. I can’t answer those questions. I don’t know what it feels like because I’ve never experienced motherhood.
This wasn’t the plan. I’d always intended to have children. Two to be exact. One at 25, and the second at 28. Over the years that 25 became 35 and the 28 turned into 38, but the plan was always in tact. But then, as is the case for so many of us, life stepped in the way of my plans.
At first I found myself in a succession of unsuccessful relationships, and then in the middle of my peak dating years (just when my selection of men was improving) I got struck down by an illness. For the next seven years, dating and motherhood became secondary to mere survival. They became things ‘other people did’ – they didn’t even warrant space in my life.
Initially when I got better I thought I was over that phase; over motherhood. But its slowly been creeping its way back into my thoughts and life. Do we as women ever get over the desire to have children, even when we may have accepted its improbability? I see it in the eyes of talented and beautiful women I’ve questioned about whether they have a child, or wanted one if they didn’t. There is a look in their eyes, perhaps only recognisable by another childless woman. Their eyes may glaze over, a tear could form, or they may seem empty for a moment.
We have this womb, this space within us that was made to carry and bare a new human form. The process of conception and birth is truly miraculous. To be a part of that, to continue the cycle of life, is inherent to a woman’s body. How do we deal with not fulfilling our body’s legacy?
I appreciate some women have deliberately chosen not to have children and are OK with that. But I’m more regularly coming into contact with those whom the choice they feel they had little conscious input in to.
I am currently writing a book about my illness. I went through a stage where I had convinced myself that my book would be ‘my baby’. It would be my creation: my ‘replacement child’. I was stuck in a writers block for so long and didn’t know why. The content for the book only began to flow when I let go of this ‘substitution plan’ and realised that even though my book was going to be my creation, it wasn’t the same as giving birth to your own flesh and blood. I feel that I will never replace that void. It is irreplaceable. That doesn’t mean that I can’t fill my life up with other amazing experiences and deeply love another person, but I no longer believe that void in the womb is fillable.