Despite all the talk about women making their own decisions to work or not work, to marry or remain single, to have children or remain childless, there’s not much discussion about the women who never had that choice to make.
And there is still an assumption that most women will have children. If you didn’t, there must be something wrong with you.
When you are not a mother yourself and don’t have a living mother or grandmother, Mother’s Day is the equivalent of getting past the Senior Prom when you don’t have a date. It’s just something that, by its nature, tells you that you are a failure. So when the day comes, you just try to ignore it.
Things came easily to me growing up. I seemed to have a natural ability for most everything (except swimming; I’m pathetic at that). I went from grade school to high school and on to college without much effort. My test scores assured me a place in college, even though the tests themselves were not that stressful.
I volunteered to do things that I had never done before, just because I knew I could do them. You need some sets built for the school musical? I’m your gal. You want me to switch from clarinet to baritone in the marching band? Sure, I can figure that out. I even opened up a picture framing business having never before made a picture frame. How hard could that be? (Not very difficult at all if you follow the instructions.)
So no one was more shocked than me when I discovered that dating and marriage were two areas where I utterly failed. Every high school dance was dance-less for me. No proms. No Homecoming dances. Nada.
College was a slight improvement, although I never dated men I was attracted to, just the men who asked me out. I’ve turned down a marriage proposal or two because there was no love there.
Still, I always saw myself as married with children. I knew I would follow my mother’s example and read to them every night before they fell asleep. I would be there for the school plays and Parent-Teacher conferences. I would give them enough free time to discover their imaginations. I would stand nearby, but let them work through their own difficulties with their friends. I would let them know they were loved, even when I didn’t particularly like them at the moment.
At least, that’s what I thought I would do.
Didn’t happen for me, but happy belated Mother’s Day to the rest of you.