Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Sunday in May

On this particular Sunday in May, I’d like to express my profound appreciation to the women I know who are not mothers.

There are perhaps a dozen women in my life who either chose not to give birth or who were not fated to do so (at least up to now). Each one of them makes the world a better place, each and every day, in ways they might not be able to if they had children. I suspect that, especially on a day like today, some of those women wonder about the choices they’ve made or the turns their lives have taken. So today, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the subject.

First—and this is a fact—the world doesn’t need more children. This earth is well populated, and from an environmental standpoint, it would be best of we didn’t tax it any further with more human organisms. Our dominance on the planet is secure for the foreseeable future.

Second, the women I know who have not borne children have developed their own potential in ways they might not have had they been required to spend decades putting the needs of children first. Generally speaking, they’re well educated. Many have meaningful and satisfying careers. Most are politically, culturally, or socially active in ways that enrich the lives of those around them.

Finally, many of the women I know who are not mothers are terrific “aunts”—either literally or figuratively. They’ve become part of the “village” we all know is necessary to raise a child. Some have helped their biological sisters, who may have been unable or unwilling to do the best job possible of raising kids—or they’ve just been the “other adult” in a child’s life, someone who’s a positive role model or who offers a fresh point of view. Many of the non-mothers I know are terrific teachers, counselors, or coaches.

I despise the term “child-less,” which seems to imply that a woman without children is somehow “less.” Not so. Perhaps she is “more” than she might have been otherwise. For some, a better term might be “child-free.”

For myself, I adore my children, and I’m grateful to have them. As an only child, I knew that I could never be anyone’s favorite aunt. My children have taught me, and continue to teach me, much that I would not have known otherwise. Some people learn these things in other ways.

So for all my beautiful sisters who are nobody’s “mother,” I wish you a perfect spring day, peace in your heart, and the wisdom to celebrate your very special role in the world.

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