the choices we make

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I am childless by choice.  When I was younger I thought I wanted a big family, with lots of kids.  Then I thought I only wanted one.  I even took a few steps toward making it happen.  But in the end, I eventually realized that I did not need a child born from my body to fulfill some societal construction of being a woman.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t been a mother.  In the years when my two nieces were young, I lived with my brother and his wife and I helped parent two amazing people.  I showered all of my mothering on them, and they turned out to be beautiful young adults.

I’m not knocking those who chose to give birth.  I think it’s a beautiful thing.  I stand in awe of mothers everyday.  I know my own mother is a super-hero in my eyes.  Always has been. My parents split when I was 11, and my mother had primary custody.

Divorce is always ugly for the kids, even when the parents do their best to shield them from the acrimony.  I was old enough to see it all, and while I thought I knew what was going on, I can see looking back that I didn’t understand it all.

But, life after the break up was tough.  My mother did her best though, and she loved us fiercely.  I learned a lot of life skills from her.  I learned compassion and sacrifice from her.

I didn’t need to give birth to understand motherhood.  I didn’t need an infant in my arms to know unconditional love.  I chose to give my mothering to those in need, from my nieces, to the homeless, from pets to families struggling with poverty around the globe.  These are my children, and I could never love them as I do without learning that love from my own mother.

So, happy Mother’s Day, to my mother, my sister-in-law, all of you who mother, whether your own child or others who need you.  The choices we make define us.  Choose love first.

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