A very normal and common question to ask a woman is whether she has children or not, especially on a first encounter this is something we tend to ask. The other day I was visiting a friend’s house and I met a man there who was house-sitting the house at the time, we started talking and quite soon in the conversation he asked me if I had children, “No” I replied, “I don’t”.
In the past I used to not leave it at ‘no’ because I always felt I had to explain myself as to why I don’t have children. I was always feeling uneasy and awkward with the silence that would follow my ‘no’ so I would fill that gap with just letting out words and explaining my situation.
I don’t do that anymore. I feel great with who I am and I have accepted in full that in this life I will not be a mother. So after I replied with my ‘No, I don’t’, there was the familiar silent moment. But it was not for long, because the man told me that it is still possible to have them, so maybe a child will come at some point, there is still time. I could feel he was trying to comfort me and don’t get me wrong, I can completely understand and this is no judging from my part. It’s just how it currently is in society and how women who don’t have children are seen in the world; as lesser. Apart from the fact that I am 41 years of age, so yes, it is technically still possible for me to get pregnant, I am seeing the reflection that as a woman without children, you are not enough. I see people feel sorry for me, that I am missing out on something and that not having children, for whatever reason, is like a life unfulfilled.
The media plays a very big role in reflecting to women that not having children is something almost unbearable and that it is ok and encouraged to do whatever it takes to get pregnant. Women who are not mothers are often labelled as lesser or even times as ‘a victim’ of their circumstances, irrespective of the reasons why they do not have children. Every article I read about women who have difficulties with getting pregnant, don’t have a partner and want to have a child or women who are going to the hospital for fertility support, is laced with this notion that there is no life for women without children. The message I get from our society is that you will never be complete as a woman if you don’t give birth. This a very strong belief that lies deep within most women and is in my opinion the reason for all the desperation and deep emotional roller coaster rides women go through when they can’t get (or it takes longer to get) pregnant.
But what about our inner power and strength, our natural stillness and tenderness and the enormous love we bring as women – how about all those qualities that are within us all, why is there little reflection of this out there in the world?
Women are not lesser because we have not given birth. All women are beautiful and amazing, with or without children. We are complete as we are and this is for me, the most honouring and loving reflection I can give to myself and other women.
by Mariette Reineke, Holland