Guest writer Catherine Rossi writes about being a midlife woman who did not join the Club...of Motherhood.
I'm in the "club" but I never considered it a club. Just a shared experience that has the power to bond people, like any other transformative shared experience. I didn't have kids until 32 and I would never call someone without kids selfish just for choosing a different life path, it's fine to not have or want kids of your own. But what Catherine learned is true: it's something you simply can't understand unless you've experienced it yourself. And part of the motherhood experience, unfortunately is being judged and shamed: for working, for not working, for every little choice we make as a parent, for having the audacity to be present in any public space with a baby who might - gasp! - cry. Moms in particular are constantly on alert for such attacks from non-parents. Perhaps that makes us stick closer to other moms who "get it." If we seem exclusive as a result, please understand that it's sometimes more about self-protection than a desire to exclude.
Isn’t it a terrible truth that the distinction itself, whether in or out of the club, make women feel judged.
Great writing Catherine. I share a very similar experience and I felt seen in your piece. Thank you.
This breaks my heart. Not because you didn’t have kids, but the behavior of the other women. They say hurt people hurt people, but that is no excuse to do it. The “motherhood club” is one of trauma. Even if everything went well, parenting is shocking and hard and traumatic in the way of a great sudden rupture. Being rude or unsupportive of people who haven’t been through that particular trauma makes them ass holes. Not supporting your grief over the life you missed makes them ass holes. Women who love step kids are moms. Women who love step grandkids are grandmothers. Women who want nothing to do with kids are still amazing women. I’m sorry you didn’t find procreator friends that weren’t ass holes. We are out there! (And you can totally grandparent my kid!)
I went to my acupuncturist today after reading this and it gave me another perspective. Once she put needles in me for all sort of physical symptoms, I started crying. Yay for somatic bla bla bla. My physical bs was all emotional.
I’ve been working through some pre-verbal stuff where I wasn’t taught self regulation. The part about people saying you were selfish for not having kids is such total BS!! More often than not, having kids is selfish. Having kids and not dealing with your trauma, or generational stuff because you want to be a parent is the worst! I love my mom, and she loved me. But my life has been dominated by my parent’s stuff and recovering from it. Having me was supremely selfish. I wrote about this a few months ago - including mental health and generational stuff in the calculus. Passing on your genes or wanting to be a mom/dad is not enough. ❤️❤️❤️ (All that being said, a woman spending her life dealing with all that childhood and generational stuff is and should be as important as motherhood or career. And I give ya’ll all the credit you’re due!)
Well done, Catherine. Well written and an important perspective. Keep on writing. Jerry Enzler
I can definitely relate to dating the guy for 6-7 years and no ring, getting older, not married, no kids, etc. But for me, I didn't want to hold their babies. It was awkward, moms insisted and then I'd hold it like it had a disease. I don't mind kissing babies though - on the third eye for good luck. Sometimes my eyes would water over the beauty of the child and I feared they'd think that they were tears of regret, but they're not. I can appreciate beauty and the wonder of a child. This topic though is an interesting one for those of us who, for whatever the reason, motherhood passed. I hope you enjoy every bit of your stepchildren because obviously you care, you love, and that, whether you're a biological mother or not, is what truly matters.