Budapest, 2007, www.carolineallen.com
As Mother’s Day approaches, I’d like raise my glass to all women who are not mothers, all those in their 40s and 50s, and older and younger, who chose not to have children. I am 44 and do not have children. I have many women friends, single and in relationships, who are like me.
What does this have to do with writing? I have the freedom to be a full-time writer (and visual artist and coach). Some of the women I coach would probably not have taken up exploring fiction writing without having so much free time. Women who choose not to have children have more time TO write, more time to explore themselves deeply, more time. More time. More T-I-M-E.
On the one hand, we who choose not to breed get well-meaning aunts and in-laws whose hearts bleed and mouths blather about our childless states. On the other, we get mothers with young children envying the hell out of our freedom. But rarely do folks out there get us, really GET us.
Some of us are happy with our choices, some of us feel confused by where life has led us, but all of us are part of a whole new movement, a movement I believe is taking women to the next level spiritually, universally, societally and in gender relations. We’re on the front lines of women who do not use their energy to raise children, women who for the first time ever have real freedom to explore WHO they really are. I do not underestimate what it takes to raise a child. I honor deeply those who do. It’s an unbelievably tough job.
But it’s also a tough job to be this new breed of woman. We’re out there cutting through the underbrush for ALL women. We’re putting our voices out there, and as much as we love it, as much as we feel our souls soaring to the heights with every new painting, every new novel, every new client we help heal, we are still sometimes being cut down, mocked, sneered at, dismissed. And we have our own demons. Nobody told us we’d be part of this movement. Nobody has defined the movement for us so that we know the rules. We aren’t supported by the people around us often because they cannot even fathom what we’re doing. We don’t have a predetermined role to fit into in a world that has for centuries thought of women as childbearers and caregivers. No one knows where to put us. Some pity us. Some are scared of us. They still don’t pay us a wage equal to men. They still don’t take us as seriously.
We shall live our present as best we can, and only understand this phase in hindsight. At the next family reunion, when Aunt May opens her mouth, we could say: Aunt May, for god sake, your kids are grown and gone, for god sake, shut the f’@£$ up, get on a plane, go some place exotic and LIVE a little. But of course we don’t say that. We smile. We keep going.
Without children, we’re free to study a subject in graduate and post-graduate programs for years until we become experts in our fields. We write novels, become artists, travel the world. We start businesses. Most importantly, we work on our own healing.
I know I chose not to have children because I could not bear passing on the dysfunctions of past generations to yet another generation. STOP, I thought, let’s figure out some of this trauma, this fear, this lack of love. Little did I realize it would take the rest of my life. The Iriquois have a saying, our actions affect the next seven generations. As conscientious as new mothers are, as much as they don’t want to pass on the hurt of their forefathers, I believe in a lot of cases it’s next to impossible NOT to pass it on to your kids without first doing serious healing work on yourself. So, I said NO. I said: Let’s see what my healing work on myself will do for the next seven generations. Let’s see what my novel writing will do for young girls born to my brothers and sisters. Let’s see how owning my own artistic power will affect the women of the future.
So, I officially begin a new holiday — Unmother’s Day. Look around you. Who do you know who doesn’t have kids? What support do THEY need? How can you honor them? What do they need to follow their art with passion? A book? Supplies of some kind? A massage? Flowers? Could you send them a card and thank them for having the courage to take women to the next level of conciousness? Could you?