Babies have never really been my thing. I was not one of those young girls that enjoyed baby sitting. Young children were an oddity to me. I simply was not exposed to them very much and I had trouble figuring out how to talk to them. This fact has stayed with me for my entire life.
Still, I have a strong nurturing tendency within me and I love to give to others, to my family and friends and to my dogs over the years. It’s not that I don’t have a caring side. And I have been told that just because you are not good with other people’s kids doesn’t mean you won’t be great with your own. And I held on to that.
Except that in my life, time moved forward and the opportunity vanished.
Coming out of my divorce, I had a fairly high debt load. I was unwise in the exit strategy and thus walked away with over $25,000 in debt from various lines of credit that we as a couple had taken out for home improvements which were in my name and which were on the house I was leaving behind. Brand new roof on that house that he was enjoying and for which I was paying. For the first six months of my departure from that home, I paid the mortgage because my name was on the note and he was unemployed. I couldn’t risk losing my good credit rating.
When I exited my marriage, I simply had to get out. Plain and simple. I fled from despair. And, I rushed to such an extent that I agreed on holding the debt because truthfully, there were no other choices in my view. He was not working.
In hindsight, perhaps I could have sought counsel to figure out a better way but that would have cost money. And money I had none. So, I carried this debt and was paying it off slowly while accumulating more debt of my own because life as a single person in an apartment on my income was far from easy. And, therefore, the idea of bringing another soul into the picture, of caring for her needs – for I had a sense I would adopt a little girl, never came to pass.
And while I was never one to go crazy over other people’s kids, I longed for my own. I truly did. And then, over time, I shut off that emotion. I pushed it down under into a place that I could hide from. A place where I could avoid it and focus on what I had in life.
I watch this weekend as mothers are lauded and celebrate their motherhood. I feel a particular press against my chest as I consider all that I missed out on in not having children. I lavish the love I would give to a young person – into my dog instead.
On Facebook, occasionally, I have seen postings from parents or mothers in my distant circle that suggest that people who treat their dogs as if they were children are silly, or plain stupid. I actually from one person saw a fairly long rant on the subject not too long ago. I shook my head as I read it. Obviously in her world, someone pissed her off by suggesting that the relationship that person had with her own dog was the same as a mother and a child. This person is not a personal friend – so I am thankful to say that her beef is likely not with me.
In my world, my dog actually helps me to anchor myself to a place of joy while I walk through life childless. Would it be possible for those that mock others for putting all of the love they have into a pet- would it be feasible even for them to give us childless women a break? To understand the concept of mercy. To allow themselves to reflect on the privilege they have in being a mother, of the gift and the incredible joy that it must bring them. And then looking at their childless sister who may be a bit wacky and realize that perhaps, this wacky friend who treats the dog in her life like the treasure he or she is to her, that this person is doing her best and trying to capture joy in her own life.
We know mothers are special. Mothers are the only people in the world who understand that life is not just about themselves. They sacrifice. They put everyone else first. They overlook their own needs. This type of message is fairly frequently blasted in the media and social media. I have been instructed by the popular culture that I will never understand because I have never been a mother. This message is something I endure even from my own mother. When this message is thrown at me so often, I dare say- I grow tired. It’s a presumption and it can feel disrespectful and down right mean. I understand that in birthing a baby, a woman places herself second to her child- for the rest of her life. It’s a privilege and an honor for which I wish so strongly that I could have been a part.
I will praise and laud my mother this weekend. I will lavish her with gifts for she expects it and because she does deserve it. I will take her out for a beautiful meal. I will bring her flowers. I will fill out a card with words of love and praise because I want to but also because she needs it. And, I will not be the recipient of any such praise from anyone. Ever.
And, that’s how it goes when life passes you by and you never had a chance to dive into the reality of womanhood in motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day – all of those of you who have been blessed to either give birth or adopt. God bless.