Many have always dreamed of being a mother. I have not. No part of me has ached to carry a child in my womb or to birth a child into this world. For one reason or another, that doesn’t seem like something I’d be willing to do. It’s not something I’m sure would change me for the better.
My complicated relationship with motherhood probably stems from my complicated relationship with my mother, but I also think it stems from my complicated relationship with my family and the world as a whole.
A lot of my life, I was told to reject who I was for the sake of being a woman. People like me can’t be wives or mothers. People with big dreams can’t diminish themselves enough to fit inside a household. Because I don’t cook and clean like a typical Mexican housewife, I was not worthy of love and partnership. But that wasn’t true in the end. A partner who loves me and accepts me and cooks all my meals was dropped into my lap in a great cosmic blow to all that I was told. I am grateful and immensely content. Our life is good.
But as soon as the papers were signed and the legal marriage was official, the question of motherhood was brought up. Immediately, I was thrust into thinking about when I was going to birth children and how many. Pregnancy jokes rolled off everyones’ tongue when really, the global pandemic had just really taken its toll on my snacking.
These questions don’t bother me much coming from people who love me and who are simply curious. Most people that know me aren’t surprised when I tell them I’m not interested in birthing a child, that pregnancy just isn’t in the cards for me. The people who truly know me and truly love me accept that and move on. But a lot of people don’t, even some who love me.
This is where I feel like I need to defend my decision to not birth children. This is where I tell people about my debilitating nerve pain that never leaves my body and where I mention that any level of stress or tension can make my back go out. This is where tears well up in my eyes because I think of the toll pregnancy can take on one’s body and I imagine months in bed, pain that won’t subside, a birth that could quite literally kill me and if it doesn’t, months of recovery and postpartum depression that will piggy back off the depression I already try to manage.
You know what people say to that? My own flesh and blood? People who say that want the best for me? Women do it all the time. You’ll be fine. God will carry you through.
But women die in childbirth all the time, a great tragedy. But dying isn’t my biggest fear. My biggest fear is being completely incapacitated and resenting the child I gave birth to for what they did to me. It’s not being able to care for my child and not being a good partner to my beloved.
All this makes me angry. I’m angry that I feel the need to justify my own decisions, that I need to remind people that a woman’s body is her own and that the Lord will honor my life even if I don’t procreate. I am no less a woman because I did not carry a child in my womb.
Outside of all my bodily reasons for not wanting to carry a child, there are other factors as well. This world is cruel and broken and full of evil I don’t know how to remedy, sure, but there are things within my support system’s framework that I have trouble reconciling with being a mother.
There are people who will not love or accept my child if they are gay. There are people who will make my child feel less than if they decide to dress outside their gender norms. There are people who will shove an idea of God in their face that I will not approve or condone. There are people who will make my child feel belittled because of who they were born to be, much like was done to me.
I shake with rage thinking about this because I have seen it. I have been on the receiving end of judgement and resentment and calloused views that are not born out of love. I have fought for myself and for those that I love because the blows just keep coming, the lack of acceptance is palpable in the air and I want to scream at everyone who operates out of intolerance that they can shove their beliefs where the sun doesn’t shine and leave them there because we don’t want to or need to hear it.
I think of all the little things in my life that could have broken me, all the things that have broken people around me and I thank the good Lord every day for making me resilient. I thank the universe and everything in it that I was born strong and full of love for myself and those around me. But I don’t know if I’m strong enough to watch my children be broken by people and systems I have no control over. The thought of their hypothetical pain makes me weep because they may not be as hardened as me. They shouldn’t have to be.
But even with all this looming in my mind, I know I do want to be a mother. In this world where there is evil, I have also found immense beauty and there are children who need to be housed and fed and loved. I don’t want to birth a child, but I was to bring children into my home and protect them from a world that may not be so kind and show them the parts that will change them for the better..
Over and over again I am told that it’s not the same, that there is no love like the love that you have for your own flesh and blood, but my experience of love is not that small. In the vastness of the love I have experienced, I have been on the receiving and giving ends of love that surpasses the ones I was born into. Love is kind that way. Even when your flesh and blood is not there for you, someone can always step in. My children will be loved fully and profoundly. They will be mine to love and to shield from those who will see them as less worthy of that love. I’m not afraid to shove anyone who is a threat to them and their peace out of our lives.
I’m fearful of having to defend my children. I’m fearful of being a bad mother/ But someday I hope to fill every inch of my home with children who I can help mold into more loving humans, no matter who they are. Anyone who sees this as less than has never loved or been loved like I have. And anyone who tries to take that love away from my children will have to deal with me. When blood is not the end all be all, it’s easy to find someone else to take their place.