Mother's Day

I began my adult life making all the predictable choices of my age. Dating, education, marriage, and making a home. I did everything expected of me as a woman except for one thing; I didn’t have children. As my marriage failed, it became easy to blame the failure on my refusal to be a mother, and though he and I knew it wasn’t that simple, it became an irresistible narrative that shaped the story of our divorce. I’ve carried this failure of my heart and body for 20 years. People no longer ask me if I want children. Men I date no longer ask. My family don’t ask. It’s a strange thing for one’s female identify as Mother to be defined by the answer “No.” 

I’m reminded of all of this because today is Mother’s Day and I’m at home drinking tea and writing. I’m at home alone. I don’t mind it; being alone that is, and because my aloneness brings a certain freedom of mind, I am able to think about whether this narrative of Failed Mother-Woman fits me. The question causes me to feel unmoored and I notice I’m struggling to stay seated to write. I’m reminded of a number of women friends who’ve told me they had children to avoid being alone or unloved. I know that fear too. To open myself to the fear that I may never belong with another is dark terrain indeed. To admit this fear to others feels even more fraught. As human beings we need to belong, but what do we do if the traditional ways of belonging don’t fit who we are? 

Suddenly I feel grief that opens a yawning gap in my belly. I realize I’m opening myself to questions without satisfying answers. I am not afraid of darkness but I am afraid of loneliness. I am afraid of not belonging. I am equally afraid of living a life incongruent with who I am. Of living in part and not in whole. The experience of being human is wonderful until it isn’t and I think it is that mixed reality that influences the questions I’m willing to ask and the ones I’m not. Later today I am going to the symphony with a friend and we will talk after - very likely about how complex life is, how difficult the choices, and how uncertain the future really is. Perhaps it’s not a bad thing to let go of old ideas and narratives that no longer fit. Perhaps freedom is found in that ambiguous space. Perhaps I’m ready for my story to change.

St. Louis, MO, USA. Abigail Fox Green is a writer, challenger of the status quo, and prone to wanderlust.

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