I struggle with the fact that I'm in my mid-30s and am still a childless woman.
I am, of course, the real mother of two wonderful doggies, but people keep telling me it's not the same. (Are you sure?)
The truth is...I stopped taking birth control the second I got married in 2008. If you're doing your math correctly, that would mean more than 5 years of marriage and no baby. We've been together 10 years.
Is it difficult? Yes. I don't really talk about it, but it doesn't mean I can't talk about it. I get very excited for friends and family members who are getting ready to have babies or already have them (it's basically everyone!) And, for the most part, I can also talk about what's going on with our personal no-baby situation. It's complicated, and doctors aren't really sure, so that really sums it up.
Once a very close family member asked me, "Do you hate babies?"
I don't hate babies. I happen to really, really love them. But I don't believe in fussing over certain things that children won't remember, like presents for near-newborns. That's really more for the parents than the baby's sake. I personally think if a child can't open a present or enjoy a toy... then we should be able to have a reasonable conversation about how to be more resourceful.
ANYWAY. I love children. I am not freaking out about my childlessness yet because frankly, my husband and I would consider adoption. But in the meantime, being childless can have its difficult moments.
I don't have kids, but I have a healthy, mid-level career. It's not like working at the network or anything, but I have made choices to continue to work in the news industry, and sometimes the choices I've made have been more difficult than others. Sometimes that gets interpreted to "selfish" or "incapable of love" ... or worse. Childless women with careers are sometimes seen as power hungry, and that's just not fair.
I've found that women actually happen to be the worst at this. I've had friends say to me, "You won't really know what love is until you're a mother." Now, I wouldn't dare take anything away from mothers, but I think it's insensitive and wrong to say a person can't understand real love unless they've birthed a child. I've also seen "real moms" do that to adoptive mothers. It's just hurtful.
Also, women are quick to jump on how other women parent. There is a huge story coming out of my old market, Springfield, Mo., this week. 10-year-old Hailey Owens was found murdered, allegedly by a school faculty member. But when her mother did an interview with my old station, the mother-vultures blew up Facebook with vitriol, attacking that mom for not grieving properly:
"I would scream and punch something before I'd talk to the media..."
"I'm not judging... but that mom is weird... "
"She seems too excited that her daughter is dead..."
The mom has never been a suspect.
Without being cavalier, I've covered enough murders and tragic events to know that trying to plan how you'd feel or react is pretty assinine, insensitive and wrong. People are different, they face different emotional and physical challenges, and they react differently.
It kind of reminds me of the first funeral I attended. I was in high school when my good friend's older brother died in a car crash. I remember bawling my eyes out, and I didn't even know him. But, it was so traumatic to see a young person in that way. His family, however, seemed at peace with it. Maybe it was because they already lost their dad to cancer. Maybe they were spiritual. Maybe it was none of my business.
My point is that we all love in different ways, and we are all capable of real love and real grief. Sometimes I love so much it hurts. Is it different than a mother's love? I'm not sure, but I hope to find out one day. In the meantime, I just want to share a message of love because there are certainly a lot of people who could use more.