This is a generalized writing and yet I hope you find the vulnerability in what I share.
The norm is to get married and have children. As a Latina female it is even more of an important matter and expectation. If you are over the age of 30, unmarried and without children you are seen in a not so positive light. The Latino culture tends to be quite family oriented so when a woman does not have a family - the thought or judgment is that she may be selfish or not a good caring woman. Why? Well, Latinas are brought up to be nurturers and proud mothers in the making.
Even though there is some respect for women who have chosen to pursue their careers over staying at home and raising children - there is still a sense of being wrong for not embracing womanhood fully. We judge women who may not be as nurturing or have the motherly instinct. The thing is we never fully know that person’s story.
More and more some women are simply choosing to pursue their passions, hobbies, or interests over motherhood. And still others like me have either not found our life partner and/or taken the leap to adopt and raise children.
For a long time I thought I would eventually have children. For quite some time I thought I would end up adopting a child as I saw many children needing good parents. I am glad that I am at peace if I don’t bear children of my own as I’m in an age bracket in which motherhood is less of a possibility for me. I’m quite okay with this. There have been times when I yearned to be a mother and I honor that tender mother in me because I am loving, affectionate and a nurturer.
Once upon a time I envisioned getting married and having kids. Then perhaps I got wiser or scared of the true intricacies of motherhood.
As the oldest of three girls a substantial amount of responsibility was placed on me to be the best I could be. I learned to expect high standards from my parents who were both quite hard on me. Up until my late 20s I desired the traditional path of adult milestones. I am unsure if there was anyone or significant event that led me to want to remain childless. What I do know is that when my youngest sister became pregnant and a single mom -I saw the reality of not only pregnancy but what was to come.
I adore my nephew and had the privilege of being in the room during my sister’s labor. As a newborn my nephew was easy to take care of. Of course there were nights with little sleep but nothing out of the ordinary. The challenge came when my nephew started walking and grabbing things to put in his mouth. All in all there is no one book, manual or best advice for new moms. Every baby/child is unique. Perhaps the uncertainty of personalities and the unknown are what makes it a bit scary.
Fear and Love -the deterrent and seducer. Before we see the reality of new or inexperienced mothers or even seasoned moms around us- we are naive and willing to be mothers. We are seduced by the love and warmth that a baby naturally has to offer. We see the cuteness in children more than the frustrations. If we are “in love” with our partner, the idea of motherhood can be romanticized. We imagine the experience of holding in our arms that loving extension of our partner or love nest. When we are younger and inexperienced marriage and motherhood seem rather uncomplicated.
Wait long enough and you see others around you truly sharing both the beauty and roughness of motherhood. For me the challenges of motherhood could be outweighed by the “deep desire” to be a mom. It is that deep desire that I believe is lacking.
Just prior to graduate school -I had noticed that several social workers with graduate degrees remained childless. This was just my personal observation rather than any research I did on the subject. I remained uncertain about motherhood and inclined to give it up. Reality set in while I was in graduate school. I no longer felt I truly wanted the traditional path of marriage or motherhood. I wanted to date and have a life partner but marriage on paper was not as important.
As an introspective person I realized that helping to raise my sister 11 years younger than I after my mother’s death when I was just 19 years old had quite a bit to do with my ambivalence about motherhood. A part of me felt I had already done motherhood and just wanted a life free to do what I wanted when I wanted. Children mean major responsibility. As the oldest I had had plenty of responsibility growing up especially being the first generation of immigrant parents. That combined with my mother’s health and emotional chaos led me to grow up fast thereby cutting my childhood short.
Unprepared for motherhood I felt burdened and overwhelmed by believing I didn’t have an option to help raise my sister. My desire to enjoy my youth free of responsibility and my need to nurture and be loved by my being self-sacrificing was an internal struggle. Being the nurturer and personal psychotherapist to my mom had secured her love for me as a child. Without greater awareness I raised my sister in the hopes that I would be securing my family’s respect and love. Only later as an adult did I come to terms with how conditional her love was and how it impacted so much of my life. In the process my inner demons were unleashed and the relationships with my dad and youngest sister suffered. For a while, I felt guilt for having done a poor job of being like a mom to my kid sister. Now, I know that I did my best given my level of awareness at the time. I meant well and I hope my sister can understand that one day.
I have a friend who has told me on various occasions that he thinks I would be a great mom.
I believe that I would be a good mom but my desire is not strong and being a passionate person I need the desire to be strong in order to be a happy mom. In this regard I feel my choice to remain childless is loving as a child deserves a selfless devoted mother. Resenting my own child for something he or she had no power of choice over would be so unkind.
Motherhood is such a personal choice. If anyone judges or has an opinion on the matter - I say it is a reflection of them. I honor my choice to be a woman who will not bear children this lifetime. I believe it is a choice made out of love for myself. I am humble enough to respect the Universe’s wisdom so I remain open to the possibility of becoming a mom in ways I may not have even imagined.
There is a time and place for everything. The younger we are the more energy we have. The older we get the more wisdom we acquire. The beauty of life is that often it is the children that are imparting lessons to the parents. We learn about patience, being in the moment, taking things lightly and so much more. I know for me I have learned that I can be more nurturing to myself like a loving mother.
The joy of motherhood is a reward for the merit of challenging work. Many souls need love. Planet earth needs love. All around us whether or not we choose to be moms we can give nurturing love.
In our own ways we all give birth to ideas and new life through our hobbies, work and dreams. It is our genetic makeup to love. So whether we have children of our own or not we can all love deeply and share that love.
I am grateful to all mothers including mine. Afterall, you and I would not be here if it were not for our mothers and the Love of the Universe.
I applaud women who take the leap into motherhood and those who have taken the time to look into their hearts and decided to forego motherhood.
Perhaps the question is not whether to be or not be a mom or parent but rather how we can be more loving mothers to ourselves and nurturing to those around us.
What do you think?