Tonight I ask, hug your kids, hold them close, and say thanks for the miracle bestowed upon you. No matter how many teenage moms MTV promotes or kids pop out of that Duggar woman in Arkansas, having a child is a miracle.
For me, reality has sunk in–it’s highly likely I will never be a parent, a mother. Yes, I believe in miracles, but I’m also grounded in reality, and my reality is that at my age I only have a 10% chance of having a child, and that’s if my Patrick Dempsey look-alike-boyfriend entered the scene today. With medical intervention it’s only 25%.
Enter, my silent grief. Silent because I wonder if it’s even a valid grief, if I’m entitled to the pain of losing something I never had while others have lost children and suffered miscarriages. Silent because in the hierarchy of society there’s little value placed on a 40-something, single, childless woman; we’re the bottom feeders of a social caste system that celebrates marriage, motherhood, and baby bumps. We’re the wallflowers at the high school prom who have nothing to offer society except taxes that fund schools of which we’ll never use. Heck, even teenage mothers get more societal love than the 40-year old childless single.
So I sit quietly by and watch those around me post pictures of their kids’ achievements and celebrations, announce pregnancies, wipe dirty faces, chase after that one missing shoe, or even raise their voice to say, “if you do that one more time, I’ll…” and each time, I’m reminded that I will never know any of those things. And each time, I know this won’t be the last, that on some random day in the future, just when I think I’ve moved on and believe that my life is fine without kids of my own, a photo will show up on my Facebook feed, a birth announcement made on a conference call, and I’ll be reminded all over again. It’s a cycle that will continue for the rest of my life.
And while people will tell me that without kids I’ll have the flexibility, the time, and the money to do what I want, I nod my head and say, “yes, I know.” And I really do know. I have the benefits of a no child life posted to a bulletin board and read them daily as some sort of positive affirmation. I replace visions of birthday parties, graduations, recitals and little league games with visions of exotic travels, plastic surgery at 50 and a solid retirement fund so I can pay for someone to take care of me when I’m old. Yet, no matter how many trips to Fiji I take or units of Botox I inject, at my core, I know it’s all a consolation prize.
As a five-year old my favorite book was the Golden Book, “Little Mommy” –that’s what I wanted to be. Goodbye Little Mommy.