Technically, I’m a mother.
I’m five months pregnant, so people tell me this is my first Mother’s Day. But for all practical purposes, I am not a mother. I haven’t experienced the labor, the sleepless nights or the constant care for another human being, so I don’t feel I have the right to claim that title just yet.
Pretty Mother’s Day flowers from our yard.
To be honest, choosing motherhood was actually fairly difficult for me. Possibly because it seemed to be a foregone conclusion most of my life. In church as a young girl, I always got the feeling that education was good and all, but really, every girl was supposed to become a mom. Unfortunately, I can’t say we’ve come all that far in thirty years. Even in the past week, I’ve heard things like ‘you’ll never know true love until you have your child’ or 'now that I have children, my life has true meaning’.
I know these things are said with good intentions, but I don’t think people realize the importance they’re placing on a single (albeit all-encompassing) aspect of their lives and the message it’s sending. I’m curious how my feelings about this topic will grow and change in the next year, when I have a little girl standing in front of me. But one of the things I want to teach her is that her value does not depend on other people.
And wouldn’t those 'other people’ include children?
I want her to know that having or not having children does not make her more of a woman. Somehow, even in our Christian communities, this is not a message that girls hear loud and clear. This time last year, a friend wrote on Facebook as part of a Mother’s Day post “You don’t have to be a mother to be a valuable woman.” It stopped me in my tracks and it brought me to tears. This was the core issue I had been wrestling with for the past few years: Did God really create women just for the purpose of bearing children? If I don’t have a desire to have children, does that make me a bad person? If this is supposed to be my purpose in life, is something wrong with me for not wanting it?
Me, with my mom and my grandma.
Today I want to honor my mother, grandmother and all the women in my life who have cared for me over the years. I will wish a Happy Mother’s Day to women who are caring for the children in their lives — their own or not. I think the true sacrifices of motherhood deserve to be honored, not idolized.
I’m so grateful for a good friend who asked me hard questions and helped me work through some of these issues. And thankful that in spite of our hangups, God can still make truth clear — our value does not depend on other people.
It’s a lesson I think motherhood (ironically) will continue to teach me every day.
Along these same lines, I really appreciated this article by Anne Lamott yesterday. Very similar to what I’m trying to say, but much more articulate.