It can be a burden, I know, to be single and childless. You don’t get to your 30s without being baby hungry all the time (or maybe you do, and it’s just me. I suppose some women don’t want children, and that’s okay). I desperately want children. I crave them. Sometimes I cry at night for the wanting. And a husband would be nice too. So when Mother’s Day comes around, there’s a certain touch of melancholy there.
I’ve never once felt less valued, less important to the LDS Church as a single, childless woman. I’ve never felt as if my contribution is less than the contribution of a woman who has been fortunate enough to have marriage and children. I don’t think it’s because I’ve always been around super-evolved, open-minded people (you get all types at church:”Why don’t you just get married?” or “Don’t you want children?”—you who are single with me know what I’m talking about, as if you can just go to the husband store and pick out a man); it’s because I’m aware of my personal value. I know that I’m worth something because of who I am, not how many offspring I can produce. It’s because I don’t base my relationship with God and the Church on something that I can’t control or on the way other people feel. It’s because I know individual worth is based on the individual.
Plus, you don’t have to have children to be a mother. You can nurture in other ways. I teach Sunday School to 12 and 13 year olds, and I try to nurture them. I love them, I’m concerned for them, I pray for them. I have my family and nearly 29 nieces and nephews, two in particular whom I mothered regularly several times a week while my sister worked since they were just babies (I have a special relationship with those two little boys). I’m in a position as an aunt without children to have fuller relationships with my nieces and nephews than most of my siblings get to enjoy. I see my niece, nephew (in-law), and great-niece regularly. I remember holding my niece—the oldest in the Weber family—as a baby years ago, playing with her as a little girl, and talking to her now as a cherished friend (and holding her little girl). I might not be a mother, but I’m the favorite aunt. Then there’s my little Lizzy, my pet hedgehog, who thinks she’s a person; she’s my baby.
You can be a mother without having given birth. It might not be the same, but it’s fulfilling in its own way. I fully expect to have children one day, but I won’t base my happiness on what might happen.
To all you women who might not have children or husbands, this Mother’s Day is for you because you are a mother. You are valuable. You are needed. Find happiness in the nurturing you can do.