I am sure for many, the idea of being a Childless Mother, is an oxymoron. For, if one does not have a child, she is not a Mother. Prior to 1998, I too, would have thought this way. Yet my life, and that of far too many others, reflect that there are those of us who are Childless Mothers.
If you have come to this page to explore or heal you are probably more open to the idea than most, or you are one of us and know the truth of this. Either way, let me take a few minutes to express what it means to me, to be a Childless Mother. For me, when my son Kendall died before birth, I struggled with feeling like a Mom but having no one to snuggle or hold or care for. I knew I was his Mom, I carried him within me for almost four months. I changed my diet and sleep patterns to do all I could to give him the best start. I shared hopes and some fears with close loved ones and I was beginning to figure out how to do all of what was going to be needed as a single Mom raising a baby. I had considered whether or not I could do it, had explored what I believed I could do if he was differently-abled or born with disabilities. I had thought, and overthought every possible scenario, except for the one I lived through. What would I do if he was never born? How would I live through it if he died? I entered the hospital a Mom-to-Be and left as… I had no idea who I was now. What do I call myself now? Am I a Mom? The questions were second only to the level of grief. And although the appeared immediately, they took many years to answer.
My answers are mine, they may not work for anyone else, or they may be answers to questions others have never even asked. Please know, the one thing I have learned, is that losing a baby/child is the most intensely personal loss anyone can live through. I share my experiences, not to convince anyone, but to allow others to know they are not alone in trying to sort out how to navigate the world when your internal experience is in contradiction to others’ perceptions of you. I share to say, you are not alone, your loss is yours and you have the right and freedom to grieve and move forward anyway you see fit, but here are some things I have learned in my nineteen years of walking as a Childless Mother.
I hate Mothers’ Day! There, I said it. I realize this often makes me unpopular but it is my truth. For over ten years I could not even celebrate my Mom, who is one of the Moms who really deserves to be celebrated. You see, Mothers’ Day is a public declaration that Moms matter and deserve to be celebrated and honored (which I agree with and support, in theory). Yet, no one sees my son. He existed within me and my journey as his Mom is a spiritual one that I have to fight for and declare on my own simply so others can see me as I see myself. I do not have pictures of him. I have no Baby Book, lock of hair, hand print collage or first tooth. I have late night story times and prayers that only he and I shared. I have hopes and dreams that crashed and burned in that bright, overly sterile and crisis-swamped emergency room. As a Childless Mother, there are no first steps or days of school. There are no handmade gifts or holiday traditions. There are only “What Ifs…” and “Might-Have-Beens…”.
Childless Mothers must own, declare and defend our Motherhood. It is not a given, like it is for others. It is emotional and sometimes exhausting. Yet, when I am at my most evolved and peaceful, I always am able to hold onto a grace and wonder that Moms of living children often take for granted. I cherish every one of those moments that are mine and Kendall’s. I have so few and I honor them from the most spiritual part of myself. I remember a moment of gut-wrenching sobbing in the days after losing Kendall, terrified the day would come when no one would remember that he existed. My brother quietly and wisely said, “But that will be the gift. No one other than you has that relationship with him. And no matter how much time goes on, you will always have that”. I knew it was beautiful but did not know how important that would be as time went on. It has saved me many times and become the gift I am most grateful for in my life.
I am Kendall’s Mom. I do not need anyone else to validate that. It warms my soul when my family and friends honor my Motherhood (and I am blessed with many who concretely see me as a Mom and share that with me) but my connection to Kendall is mine. I am honored he chose me to be his Mom. I am a better human being because I am his Mom. I have compassion, joy and love in my life because he cracked open a place inside of me no one else could ever have reached. He is my son. I love him. I am his Mother.
Beth Ann Morhardt is an Empowerment Specialist, specializing in domestic violence and its impact on children and parenting. She is Mom to an angel baby named Kendall who she lost via miscarriage in 1998. After much grief and healing work, soul searching and deep reflection she chose not to have other children. While this was often misunderstood by others as a reaction to losing Kendall, for her it was an empowered decision based in love. Being a Mom with no living children allows her to be available and open to being the proud aunt to two of the coolest kids on the planet (and that is not in any way bias, it is simply true). As she navigated the grief and healing journey of Kendall’s loss she was inspired to dig deeper under the pain and begin to look at all areas of her life in which she could live more truthfully. Through this Beth Ann chose to speak of childhood sexual abuse she survived and kept silent about for over thirty years. This choice has allowed her to walk in authenticity and healing in ways she never imagined, never mind hoped for. Walking in authenticity and truth is not always easy. Often the path looks more like an obstacle course than a paved walkway but there is no greater feeling at the end of the day than knowing you lived each moment present and authentically. Read more on her blog, Indeeditistime.
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