QUESTION OF THE DAY: HAVE YOU EVER REGRETTED NOT HAVING CHILDREN?
A dear soul on this Facebook page asked me this the other day, and I thought I’d make the answer public.
The simple answer, blessedly, is: No.
The longer answer is that I have come to believe there are three sorts of women, when it comes to questions of maternity. There are women who are born to be mothers, women who are born to be aunties, and women who should not be allowed within ten feet of a child. It can be a tragic situation (either personally, for a family, or for the community at large) when a woman ends up in the wrong category, based on her true nature. Women who long for children but cannot have babies suffer enormously, as we know. But children who are born to inadequate or unprepared mothers also suffer enormously (and their mothers suffer, too—trapped in a responsibility that they can neither meet or enjoy).
Those of us who are natural-born aunties are luckier. We love children, we enjoy children, but we know in our deepest marrow that we are not supposed to have children of our own. And that is absolutely fine, for not every woman in history needs to be a mother. Now, listen—if you put a baby in front of me, rest assured: that baby is gonna get cuddled, spoiled and adored. But even as I’m loving on that beautiful infant, I know in my heart: This is not my destiny. It never was. And there is a curious rush of joy that I feel, knowing this to be true—for it is every bit as important in life to understand who you AREN’T, as to understand who you ARE. Me, I’m just not a mom. I create in other ways. Having reached a contented and productive middle age, I can say without a blink of hesitation that wouldn’t trade my choices with anyone’s.
Meanwhile, as you can see by this photo (where I am shown sitting at my desk, creating in the manner in which I was meant to create) I got me some cats. I got a dog, too, but cats are really good for lady writers without kids. Cats can get themselves bathed and dressed in the mornings, while you are working on your book, and you never have to drive them to school. Also, they are excellent and exacting editors.
Blessings to all, and thanks for asking! Liz
** copied and reposted from Elizabeth Gilbert’s facebook page.