Do we need to have children in order to be fulfilled?
I made a decision in my 20s not to have children! I can honestly say I do not regret that choice.
I love children! I enjoy their energy, curiosity, vitality and playfulness. I learn from them. They remind me to stay playful. As a woman I feel a need to nurture and contribute to all the people I meet whether they are young, older or elderly. My mothering instincts express itself in the form of compassion, creativity and confidence: through my work, my relationships and my empathy for a world that, let’s face it, needs love in all its forms. My innate feminine energy is present and evident in everything I do!
Regrets? I’ve had a few but then again too few to mention!
Do I regret not having children? No. I made the right choice for me! I have not failed as a woman! I do realize that not every woman shares my point of view. I am fine with that! My heart goes out to women that would have loved to have their own biological children but it simply has not happened for them. And my hearts breaks for any woman or man that has lost a child!
Considering the delicacy of these varied circumstances, navigating conversations surrounding family and children can be a tricky one. I mention tricky and delicate because when asked whether you have children (I and a lot of my child free friends) find themselves reassuring their inquisitor with, ‘oh it’s fine… don’t worry about me… it didn’t happen for me… I’m fine, really I am…’ and on and on.
More often than not people assume you belong in one category or another without knowing your circumstances. They either look confused, disapproving or sympathetic. I recently had a lovely gentleman, who I met at church; moments after meeting me ask the question, ‘Do you have children?’ When I simply replied ‘no, I don’t have any children,’ without hesitation, he uttered, ‘How unfortunate’!
I found this man’s lack of restraint rather refreshing because he voiced what I believe a lot of people think and feel about my circumstances. I have even had women stop dead in their tracks and redirect their attention elsewhere upon learning my predicament.
I feel extremely fortunate and blessed!
This brings me to my main point: I do not feel unfortunate. Yes the beauty and joy of children is a wonderful and beautiful gift. Some would say it is the most creative things we can do with your lives, and I totally get that. But it is not the only way to have a full and creative life. So please do not judge me for making a different choice to you. Children provide milestones for our lives. As a teacher I can see the children that are thriving and the children that are not. For many they are their legacy. However, women that do not have children – can find other means to create a legacy and other avenues to fulfill potential and create milestones. Children, as precious as they are, are not the only way to find fulfilment. Mothering instincts are at work every time we are loving, accepting and nurturing towards others and ourselves.
Are we women first or human beings first?
In a recent interview I asked my interviewee, ‘How would you define yourself as a woman’? I received this response:
I don’t define myself as a woman; I define myself as a person! What sex I am does not come into it. When I think about who I am, I think about what I have achieved in my life or what I want to achieve. I think about what I am most proud of. Some of us are wives, sisters, friends, lovers, daughters, mothers, aunts, carers. Whether you fulfill one of these roles or all of these roles should not reduce or increase your value as a person.
Very wise thoughts indeed! So in answer to the lovely, honest gentleman who considers my life unfortunate, I would like to say:
Please don’t feel sorry for me. I am sufficient in myself, complete, happy and strong enough to see life through on my own. I take care of myself. My focus is on how I can contribute to society with my energy, love, resources, creativity, confidence and compassion. I am free to give to people, groups, children and the elderly. I am outward focused and give love and support to all. So please do not feel sorry for me – we all have a place in this world that is vital, important and valuable whether we are mothers or not. I feel truly blessed and I aim to live a free and vital life full of love, peace and joy. I hope you are as happy and content with your life. I truly wish that for everybody whether you are parents or not and I feel no need to enquiry to which group you belong!
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