A Woman’s Choice: To Become a Mother, or Not

I grew up with one older brother and three younger ones. There’s quite a difference in age between us. There are fifteen, nine and eight year’s age difference between myself and my three younger brothers. 

No one asked me, nor was it expected of me, that I take on the role as ‘a second mother’ to my younger brothers, but that’s exactly what I did. I would take responsibility for them and how they felt. I used a lot of mental energy worrying about them, and also being there for them and doing things with them. At times I would even yell at them and put them into place and really acted out the ‘mothering-role’ as a teenager.

Back then I thought I was doing the right thing through being ‘good’. In retrospect I see that I did it to ease my own pain from not being met by my own parents. I did everything I could at the time to try to prevent my brothers from feeling the way I felt – not met, seen or loved.

I was always praised for being such a wonderful sister, and people would comment on how I one day would be an equally wonderful mother. I connected beautifully to other kids, my friends’ kids as well as with kids I didn’t know. And the same comments kept coming – what a wonderful mother I would one day become.

I was never posed the question whether I wanted to become a mother or not; the comments were laced with predetermination, like a fact. Like I had no choice in the matter, but rather – “You are placed on this Earth to become a mother, Nathalie. Deal with it.”

As much as I love and adore kids, I really didn’t question ‘the pressure’ I felt from myself and others and smiled at all the comments and politely said ‘thank you’. Through many years I bought various garments, books, toys and little things that I would have for my future children. I even knew in my mind what I would name them. It didn’t cross my mind, not in a million years, that I would not have my own children one day.

Boyfriends came and went, but starting a family never seemed right – it wasn’t the right time, nor the right financial or living situation, and not the right boyfriend.

The years quickly went by and my friends around me started to get established with houses, children and pets. They had their first, second and some had a third child. Through the years I went in and out of being desperate to get established and have my own children, but I never took the last, necessary step – stop and commit. I was too busy studying and travelling and being with the wrong guys. Ironically it was when I met someone who I could see as the father of my children, that I made the big decision – to not have any of my own!

I was totally confused. I thought “Who will I be if I am not a mother? Who will I be and what will I do with myself? Isn’t that a ‘mission’ all women have? Everyone is expecting me to become a mother. What will I say? What will people think? Am I a failure as a woman?” The thoughts went on and on…

I was caught in much doubt, confusion, self-loathing, shame and embarrassment – all at the same time.

That was until a new awareness awakened within me, in 2011, at the age of 36.

For the first time in my life, EVER, did I realize that I had a choice. I actually had a choice to become a mother or not. It was a true revelation happening inside of me, as I had never ever seen it as a choice before.

I had held onto the belief that becoming a mother was as ‘natural’ as the fact that I had a left arm. It was such a strong, profound and cemented belief in me, which I had never questioned. When I realized that I had a choice, it was a huge relief for me and a lot of tears were shed.

When I actually made the decision to not have any children of my own it was like a weight of a hundred kilos dropped off from my shoulders. Only then did I realize what process I had been through.

It’s quite ridiculous to now look at how oblivious I was in regards to my own body and my own life, and to what extent I had taken on a belief from outside of myself. I was blind to it, but the choice belonged to me all along.

NathalieSterk
Nathalie Sterk

I came to realize that I am a woman first and foremost, and to become a mother is a choice for each and every one to make on their own.

I feel complete and whole as a woman and not the least less amazing for not having children. I share the whole of me with all the children I meet on my path.

I was once asked what makes me joyful – my immediate answer was and still is children, of all ages, but that doesn’t mean I need my own.

I am beyond thrilled to have a 2 year old, adorable lovely nephew, from my oldest brother and I cherish spending time with him, every second and with the wonderful children of my many lovely friends.

I am forever grateful to Miranda and Serge Benhayon who supported me during the time I felt most confused and lost. They put things in perspective for me and it allowed me a deeper understanding of the way that I needed. I am forever inspired by their work through Universal Medicine, and it’s many students and practitioners.

I have never looked back. Living my life as the woman I am, choosing not to be a mother, feels joyful and complete.

By Nathalie Sterk, Oslo, Norway

You may also Enjoy:

How I embraced that mother or not, being a woman comes first … with Sandra Dallimore

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No children and no less a woman … All women are beautiful and amazing, with or without children!

682 thoughts on “A Woman’s Choice: To Become a Mother, or Not

  1. Can be difficult to stay strong against societal norms, to claim the fact that as a woman you don’t want to have any children. Even writing this comment i paused for a split second before typing “don’t want to have any children”, because my socially constructed mind tells me that it is not okay to not want to have children, what will my life be like if I don’t? Are we willing to settle for any relationship just so we an fulful the role as a wife and a mother? Is it possible that many of our relationships are actually based on this pressure rather than the true purpose of being with another person? How screwed up is our way of thinking if this is our guiding impulse..

  2. Feeling yourself to be a woman is beautiful. We do not own our children so all children are the responsibility of all of us to nurture to know who they are.

  3. Had I not had the role models I have now from Universal Medicine and Esoteric Womens Health since I was 21 I’d be comparing myself now (i’m 29) to many friends who have chosen to have children. It feels great to grow up throughout these years knowing that I don’t HAVE to have children it is optional if I choose to.

  4. It is by choosing our own choices as we move along our life’s path, that we come to know what is in harmony with our true purpose for being here on earth.

  5. This is lovely to read, and yes, children do bring us so much joy, they have a natural joy, ‘I was once asked what makes me joyful – my immediate answer was and still is children, of all ages, but that doesn’t mean I need my own.’

  6. When we make choices that are true for us, we liberate ourselves from the pictures we’ve created for ourselves or have adopted from society about how life should feel or look – and everyone benefits as a result.

  7. Choosing not to be a mother because you are choosing to be you and to make your own choices. Very powerful and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible journey.

  8. A great awareness that you came to, ideals and beliefs can be so strong and it then feels like we have no choice, ‘It’s quite ridiculous to now look at how oblivious I was in regards to my own body and my own life, and to what extent I had taken on a belief from outside of myself. I was blind to it, but the choice belonged to me all along.’

  9. This is such an honoring choice and reflects how we can be a mother to those who are not our blood – it is all in the relationships we have. I had someone come for dinner the other day – she is not a mother but she spoke to my toddler in the same way I did – constantly reinforcing responsibility – and in that moment, she was a mother – and it was beautiful to watch my toddler respond to her and feel the consistency that can be presented from people around her, without any need for there to be titles or certain relationships in order to present this.

  10. It feels so imposing to bring our young girls up with pictures of how their life will unfold and include in that an assumption that this will automatically include becoming a mother at some point. Your blog is a great counterpoint to the pictures that so many are fed about fulfilment coming from having your own children when this is absolutely not necessary or for some true for them this lifetime.

  11. To realise we have a choice whether we want to become a mother or not shows the ideals and beliefs that are carried by the world in general and imposed onto children from an early age

  12. “I was once asked what makes me joyful – my immediate answer was and still is children, of all ages, but that doesn’t mean I need my own.” This is beyond amazing Nathalie, as so many women have the ideal pictures of what it means to be around children, which entails giving birth oneself. As you have shown you can enjoy children but don’t need to be a biological mother. We can all have mothering energy for all the children we meet.

  13. ” what a wonderful mother I would one day become. ”
    Its important to note that one does not physically need to be a father or mother to be involved in parenting children, its the responsibility of all adults.

  14. I sometimes see little girls acting in the ‘mother role’ with their younger siblings and wonder if they are mimicking the way they see their mother parent the boys. It seems likely to me or that they have picked up on societal cues, as the words they use, or the sighs of frustration seem out of place in a young girl. There is no joy in their interactions, just the weight of responsibility and trying to be seen to be good/helpful.

  15. Yes, taking on that mother role is very familiar to me! I did it with my two beautiful brothers, and then repeated it by doing the same in my own family. My children are older now, they don’t need me to mother them. My role is to offer them a reflection of love, care, commitment, responsibility, accountability to self and therefore to all others.

  16. “I feel complete and whole as a woman and not the least less amazing for not having children. I share the whole of me with all the children I meet on my path.” A beautiful understanding of sharing your mothering energy with all.

  17. This is such a great sharing and so needed to be exposed the insidious pressure to have children and if you do you have to have st least two! I can feel the joy you have in being true to you, super inspiring.

  18. ‘I feel complete and whole as a woman and not the least less amazing for not having children. I share the whole of me with all the children I meet on my path.’ This is beautiful to read Nathalie, you are an inspiration to women everywhere as you have chosen to not live from ideals or beliefs. What a powerful reflection you offer other women of how to live and express in the world as a true and loving woman.

  19. The choice to become a mother or not is as you say a non-choice for most of us. The indoctrination that motherhood is how a woman gets her sense of worth for herself and from society starts very young. I see we need to start valuing our girls for their qualities rather than a role they can play, so they can actively make the choice about motherhood free from societal expectation.

  20. Judging by others questions I am already at the age (28 currently) where people are asking me if I am married or I have or when will (rarely ‘if’ but ‘when’) I have children. I feel the support of Esoteric Women’s Health and Universal Medicine has supported me to head into my 30’s knowing that I am far more than a potential mother or wife or career woman. These roles do not make me into a woman nor am I less without them.

  21. To no longer feel the pressure of having children is immensely freeing and I can understand the pressure you were carrying around with you Natalie. There is still a strong belief in our society that women should have children and make them fit into their lives without stopping to feel if this is really true for them for this life. I know I made the choice not to have children and I have never regretted it. I love to be with children but for me this life is about supporting myself to build a strong foundation to know who I am as a woman, without all the ideals and beliefs that we are bombarded with every day.

  22. To deeply connect to or allow the true expression of what it means to be a woman, enables us to know our own worth, and to truly know that having children does not define who we are.

  23. Breaking away from the expectation that as a woman you should bear children is immensely freeing and immensely empowering, it should be the choice of every woman to decide what is important for them in this life and not be confined by the ideals and expectations of those around her. Once you know what is true for you, it’s enormously settling.

  24. I can relate to this and am still finding my way with this, I too always thought that I wanted kids but was never in the right situation for it. Then when I did have a partner who would make an amazing father I got to feel how having children didn’t quite fit in with my life. I am still finding my way and learning to let go of any pictures that I had of wanting children.

  25. Not bowing to the ideals, belief’s and pictures that are imposed upon us from young by society but rather feeling what is true for us individually, is the greatest gift we can offer to ourselves.

  26. That’s awesome Nathalie. I feel very blessed to read these types of articles that support women to know they have a choice. I currently have no intentions of having a baby or getting married, and if I feel a pressure then great! I get to expose any beliefs I’ve picked up that tell me I should. Because when I feel something is true for me there is no pressure. And to be given the permission to follow what is true for me, from ladies who have done so for themselves is inspiring. Thank you.

  27. Seeing and understanding it as a choice whether we have children allows us the space to embrace our choice simply as an empowering truth knowing we are just as complete as a woman.

  28. It is beautiful to come to a place where you are free to let go of the impositions we are subjected to as woman and embody what is true for us and then express that truth as a powerful and claimed reflection for other women to feel that there is another way than what is expected.

  29. Gorgeous sharing Nathalie, it is great to disperse of all the images and pictures of how we think we need be and get on with being who we truly are. There are enough children in the world for us all to enjoy.

  30. When we as women are basically defined by our ability to give birth we are being reduced, as motherhood is far greater than physicality, as well as there is much more in the ‘being a woman’ than motherhood.

  31. If we have to do a lot of mothering when we are young there may then not be an impulse to be a mother later on. That seems sensible and it is great that you saw you have a choice, Nathalie.

  32. My sisters have not had children and there are even Ideals and beliefs about not having nieces and nephews the pressure on women to have children is immense from all quarters. I love this sharing Nathalie it is so important to expose the binds of social pressure and rather let us all be ourselves and make our choices freely because they are true for us.

  33. Very beautiful to read Nathalie. There are so so many ideals and believes in the world about what women should, do, be and look like and it is so freeing to realise this.. how we do have a choice and that there is no right or wrong, just what is true for ourselves.

  34. Isn’t it interesting how we take on a picture of how we think we should be in life without questining if it is right or not for us. What a freedom you clearly felt making the decision for yourself – congratulations.

  35. So inspiring that you made the true choice for you and let go of the pictures and expectations of yourself and others.

  36. It seems such a simple thing and some may dismiss this decision as no big deal but it’s true we never truly ask ourselves if we want children and for many it’s just a predetermined outcome based on thinking it’s the right thing to do. I remember telling people I was never having children and didn’t like them. I did this to stop people talking about them or having them around me. It wasn’t until after having children that I realised I even had a choice. It was great to say no to more, even though I had already been blessed with having them. It was like those light bulb moments when I could recall ever actually asking myself if I wanted children, I mean it was discussed but I never really asked myself. It was more a weigh up, you know we’ve been together, we getting older now, it seems like a good time to have them but never a direct ‘do I want children?’. I respect the decision in the article, respect the fact that based on what someone truly feels they have made a decision for themselves with some trusted support.

  37. I wonder if more women would choose to not have children if we didn’t impose so heavily onto each other that being a mother is “just the done thing”. Having woman that choose to not have children is as important as having those that do. I remember growing up we spent a lot of time at my god parents house, they could not have children and really loved spending time with us. People that are not busy raising their own kids have a fresh and lite approach to hanging out with kids, there can be a real appreciation and relaxed approach that is needed.

  38. When we know ourselves from the inner beauty that we connect to within as a woman it frees us to be able to make an informed choice on whether or not to become a mother from what we feel to be true from within rather than getting lost in the belief from society that we are not complete as a woman until we become a mother.

  39. It is not the birthing of a child that makes a woman a true mother, but the claiming of herself as a woman and with this the whole-hearted ability to nurture herself and thus all others with the light of this sacredness. Nathalie, you are an awesome example of someone who has not be coerced into blindly adopting the dictates of a society that has strayed from the truth of who we truly are and in so doing you have helped us all see that we too do not need to be bound by such chains.

  40. Many of us women do have ideas about what it means to be a woman. I know I have had a few and still wade through ideas that do not truly reflect who I am. It is great to expose what is not us, no pictures of should, we all have our own path in this big plan and we do not all have to be parents, physically. Parenting is not biological, parenting is about connection and responsibility in community, not blood.

  41. Freedom of choice is one of our greatest freedoms and the freedom of a woman to choose to have or not to have children of her own is a great place to start to unravel the pressure that to be complete as a woman necessitates bearing offspring.

  42. The path to motherhood by a woman can be one of taking one step after another on the path society has laid out for you. It is presumed the path will be followed and if you do not follow you are questioned. But is the path true for each of us? Generally this is not something we are encouraged to ponder.

  43. Nathalie, you write that nobody asked you to be a substitute mother but I often wonder whether unspoken communications within families can be even more powerful. A mother, through her actions, expressing “I am not at all capable of being a mother, I want somebody else to do it for me” might send a powerful signal to her daughter to take care of her younger children.

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