The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Mother’s Day for women with no children

Amber Jones Saturday, 21 May 2022, 07:27 Last update: about 2 months ago

With Mother’s Day celebrated just a couple of weeks ago, I find myself reflecting on the effect it has every year on those who, like me, don’t have children. Before I am misunderstood, let me make it very clear that I am, in no way, implying that it should not be celebrated.

What I’m trying to say is that it is not a day of merriment for everyone and that the feelings of these people, albeit a minority, should be respected and taken into consideration. The reason for not being a mother could be one of many, whether it’s dependent on the woman herself or other reasons, and it’s only a matter of respect that one should tread carefully when questioning such motives, although in my opinion they shouldn’t even be questioned at all.

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As mentioned, I happen to be one of those in the “childless” group of women. That word there is enough to make my skin crawl because the word “less” implies that I am missing something that in some people’s opinions makes me “less” of a woman. I have been told thousands of times that there is no feeling like childbirth and, subsequently, motherhood, by people who I’m sure didn’t mean any harm. However, such statements can seriously offend a person who, like me, has consciously decided not to have children until they met the right person to have children with, which turned out to be a more difficult task and ended up in me having no children at all.

I, like many others in my situation, have often been called selfish however this has always baffled me because, at least for me personally, I see my decision to be one that is totally the opposite of selfishness. So many people have children when they’re not ready or unsure or just as a means to “fix” their marriage and if there is such a thing as a self-centred decision with regards to having children then I think these reasons are it.

Bringing up a child that is not wanted for whatever reason can have serious repercussions on the development of that child. I, on the other hand, made a difficult yet responsible decision that I would not bring a child into a world with me not ready to give them my full attention and basically my life for the rest of theirs. Granted, maybe I waited too long but that was because I never found myself with a person that I felt I wanted to have children with, and when I was single I felt I would not be able to emotionally or maybe even financially provide for that child. So how, exactly, does this make people like me selfish? Quite the opposite I believe. I, or anybody else in a similar situation, obviously don’t owe any explanations to anyone but maybe now that it’s “out there” I’ll not be questioned anymore.

There are also those unfortunate women and families who cannot, for medical reasons, give birth to a child of their own and maybe cannot even afford expensive medical treatments or adoption, or simply don’t wish to go down that route. Although I cannot imagine the pain that must entail, I do have an idea of the repercussions it has, having had many friends who suffered this affliction.

The pain of wanting to have a child and yet not being able to is something which I imagine is just as painful as grief. This distressing situation is only made worse when people ask them, as they do to most women without children, why they haven’t had kids yet.

Nobody going through such an upsetting situation wants to have to broadcast it, or explain it, but what does one reply to get out of going into detail and then being treated like a victim? I know many people who have had to deal with this unfair string of questions, most of whom did not obviously feel strong enough to tell them to mind their own business so ended up having to share their private situation just to give an answer and basically shut them up. I have never encountered this invasion of one’s privacy in the various countries I’ve lived in.

However, in Malta it seems to prevail, and I used to be asked when I’m “planning” on having children so many times that it got to a point where I was so fed up and answered in such a way that they felt as uncomfortable as they made me feel. The problem didn’t stop there though, because now that I’ve reached an age where it is not normal, yet still possible, to get pregnant, I am instead being asked why I never had children. Why this should be of any concern to anyone is beyond me and I fail to comprehend how these people have the audacity to even ask such questions.

So while many of you reading this are lucky to have had children without complications, please just bear in mind that that is not always the case. What one might feel is a harmless question, might, in fact, open up a can of worms. As women we should stick together and respect other people’s choices without judgement and be more sensitive to the topic of having children even with those closest to us.

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