From Being Childless to Child"full"
By lauracarroll on July 13, 2011
These days there are many reasons why a woman ends up not having any kids. It could be that she is not ready to become a mother at that particular point in her life, given educational or career goals. It could be because she has not decided for sure yet whether she wants children. Or she may know that she does not ever want to have the experience of parenthood. Or she may have fertility issues.
Or she could also be what Melanie Notkin, founder of savvyauntie.com and author of Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids' recently called herself: “circumstantially infertile."
By this she means she always wanted children, but the right circumstance has never presented itself—namely that she hasn’t “found love,” or the right partner to have a child with--yet. She is 42 and single, and while she thinks her time is running out, she might think again.
A recent report from Pew Research Center speaks to an exception to the overall rising trend of more women not having children. In 1994, 31% of women ages 40-44 with a high level degree had not had children; in 2008, that number had dropped to 24 percent. In other words, there seems to be a trend of more women in their early 40s with higher degrees starting to have children. This goes along with the existing trend that women are waiting longer to have children, and in this case longer still.
Unless she knows she is infertile, might it also be more accurate to say she is “child ‘less’ by circumstance?” To the best of her knowledge she can biologically have children so she is not infertile. She is child ‘less’ because she wants kids but does not have them, and is in this situation because the circumstances she wants for herself are not in place yet.
Thinking of it this way, she remains childless by choice. It is her choice to wait for the right partner. There are other choices; she could have a child on her own. She could adopt a child and raise it on her own. Waiting for the right circumstance is truly a choice.
Even if it does not happen for Melanie, unlike many childless women, she finds an inspiring silver lining. She may not have a child of her own, but it has not left her “non-maternal.” Here are some very wise words from this savvy auntie:
“I love the children in my life with boundless adoration. If I was not meant to be a mother to 2.1 kids, then perhaps I was meant to be motherly to many more. From a girl in Tanzania I've adopted as a niece and email with many times a week, to the little ones down the hall in my apartment building, and of course to my amazing nephew and nieces by relation, I am an aunt.
I'm not childless, I'm childfull. I'm not a mother but I am maternal…to the women who are on the other side of hope, know that you are more powerful than your womb. You are maternal whether or not maternity ever comes.”
Wanting to be a mother or not, like Melanie, here’s to finding that childfull place that is right for each of us.
Childfree author of Families of Two
blogging at La Vie Childfree http://lauracarroll.com
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