Monday, June 6, 2016

Sweet Child of Mine...

She's got a smile that it seems to me reminds me of childhood memories. Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky. Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place. And if I stare too long, I'd probably break down and cry. Whoa, oh, oh, sweet child o' mine. Whoa, oh, oh, oh, sweet love of mine. –
“Sweet Child of Mine” Guns n’ Roses

I've been thinking a lot recently about that fact that I am not a mother. It's got me feeling... A WAY.  It's something that crops up every now and again. This last bout of motherhood on the brain (I think about this a lot) reminded me of something I wrote a while back, but didn’t post.

Last year, or maybe even the year before, Jennifer Aniston appeared on Carson Daily. During the interview, she discussed how people always want to know when she’s getting married or when she’s having children.  She expressed some frustration that the perception is that her value as a woman is less than because is she unmarried and childless. This caused Tamron Hall to piggyback on Aniston’s remarks.

This feels like the story of my life.  I think we're all aware that I do not have children.  When talking to people about issues with kids, I always preface my statement with “I know that I am not a parent” before I say something. Why? I feel the need to beat them to the punch.  Because I know they are thinking it, that because I am not parent, my input is without value.  

So you got me, I don’t know what it’s like to worry about a child that belongs to ME.  Does this mean that I do not have maternal feelings or instincts? Does this mean when some horrible tragedy befalls I child that I do not feel it deeply and cry along with other people (parents AND non parents) watching the same news item? Not being a mother does not mean that I do not have empathy or understanding. I am very resentful of the implication that some how you become a kinder, gentler person simply because you are parent.  We all know that is not true. Just watch the news and read the paper.  Why is this? Why do people, women especially, who do not have children some how dismissed?  

Listen, I get it. When you become a parent, your priorities shift.  There is nothing like being a parent—good and bad. But is parenthood EVERYTHING? Does it make you more valuable as a person? Would I be more empathetic if I were a parent? There is something that we do to women who are not wives and mothers.  It may not be implicitly said, but there is a sentiment that single, childless women are less than or damaged in some way.   Why aren't you married? No children either? Oh. (slightly sad look). 

I remember years ago a friend of mine (who has since had a child) expressed to me the idea that she wanted to be a mother--not just so that she could have a child (which she wanted) but so that she didn't end up one of those "miserable, angry bitter bitches".  I'll bet if were to mention that to her today, she would swear up and down that she didn't say it. But she did. And I'm sure that she is not the only person who thinks that.  Being a parent makes life worth living, right?  So when you aren't, your life is... what? A half life? A cursed life? Or perhaps just a life that is meaningless and empty? 

The notion that I am not a parent so therefore I am less kind, empathetic, loving, understanding or am somehow damaged in some way is galling and hurtful. There are things that I don't need to be parent to know (more on that at a later date). 

I just think that we have a part to play in the world. Some of us are parents, some of us are not.  I don't know that I think that one group is less or more important than another.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your post, April. I can completely relate. I'm a teacher, and it seems that, as a wide generalization, teachers pro create early (and sometimes often).

    I find myself having to answer the question about whether I have kids A LOT. My students ask. Their parents ask. And people give opinions about why I shouldn't wait, etc. etc. etc. Thank you (no thank you). I know.

    Great writing! Thank you for sharing. And I really like your Blog title!