On NOT being a mother
Today the Sunday Life magazine in The Sunday Age reprinted an article that first appeared in The Guardian in Britian at the end of March. Apparently not wanting to discriminate against non-mothers on Mothers’ Day, Sunday Life gave us a first-person article from a childless woman.
It was unpleasant. Go read the article now and see what you think.
My initial response was sympathy. Reading Bibi Lynch’s piece on not being a mother, I nodded along, aware that for some women not having children is a cause of appalling pain.
Then I got to her description of a bench with a “Much-loved aunt” plaque as “one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen”. At that point my sympathy disappeared, to be replaced by frustration and irritation.
I am a single, childless woman. This doesn’t make me feel like a failure, as though I haven’t done something that I was supposed to do. I am an adoring aunt, and would be absolutely delighted if one day my beloved nephew and nieces put up a bench or planted a tree or (lets dream big) endowed a scholarship in honour of me as a much-loved aunt.
I am not only aunt to the children of my biological siblings, I am friend and confidante and playmate and spiritual guide to the dozens of other children with whom I am connected. Families are more than biology, and communities need single people who have the time and emotional energy to connect with children, and support parents.
I’m sorry for Lynch but I have to confess that I don’t really understand her. A child is not a prize; their purpose is not to love their mother into self-worth.
And childless women are not bitter failures.
I just wish Sunday Life hadn’t chosen Mothers’ Day to reinforce the stereotype that we are.