My Thoughts on Motherhood…

My Thoughts on Motherhood…

Most people consider it a perfectly logical progression—you get married, you have children. It’s just the way of the world. But what if you’re a maverick like me, and the thought of creating another life for which you will be forever responsible scares the living daylights out of you? To tell you the truth, I find it hard to believe I’m in the minority, but I am.

As a woman who has struggled with commitment issues in the past, I can’t say decision-making is my strong suit. So I could never make what I consider to be the ultimate commitment—having a baby—very easily. This is a territory from which there is no return. Let’s face it, you can’t divorce a child. You can’t pack a bag for them, say “sorry it didn’t work out,” and buy them a one-way ticket back to the womb.

But I watch other women and men jump, head first, into baby-making as if the result was going to be as fun, easy and carefree as the process. They don’t seem to agonize over the losses involved—like freedom for example. The freedom to go anywhere, do anything—sleep anytime. They don’t worry much about losing focus of their own dreams and pursuits because now those of their little one will come first. They don’t even panic about news stories that warn parents about pre-adolescent sex and drug use in schools and neighborhoods—not to mention guns and violence. Why is that? These are questions that have baffled me, even more than my ambivalence about having children has baffled those around me.

I must admit, I am not typical. I knew when I married my husband I could have had a child with him if my body allowed, but the thought still terrified me. The pressure was on. I was forty and the odds were stacked against me. But unlike many other women, my biological clock still hadn’t begun ticking. In fact, I think someone forgot to plug it in.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t like kids, I do—some. Just like I like some adults. But I’m not one of those women who automatically coos at the sight of a baby—any baby—and longs to hold and fuss over one. That seems to be the dream of so many women I know, but it was never mine. Some people who meet me are startled to hear that I’ve never yearned for a child. They see a warm, nurturing, protective and loving person and cannot understand what could possibly be “wrong” with me that I chose not to become a mother. Some chalk it up to rather insulting stereotypical explanations. It’s a sign of immaturity, of selfishness, of eccentricity. I’m considered “less than” the ideal model of a self-sacrificing, life-giving woman. But there’s a lot they do not understand.

I don’t feel the need to see a little version of myself running around in order to feel I’ve made my mark on the world. I give birth every time I write something close to my heart. I give life by adopting and sponsoring animals, a calling of mine. More important to me, is to love the souls that are already here on earth and who are in need of nurturing. There’s no narcissism at work there, only a deep need and desire to stop their pain and loneliness and bring happiness and love into their lives—hardly a selfish or immature endeavor.

My maternal instinct is alive and well, even if it is being channeled in a slightly unconventional way. Never was it more intact than the day I went to adopt my cat, Nikki. The moment I saw that tiny, helpless, furry face peering up at me, there were no questions to be answered. Love and motherhood took over and we were instantly a team. You couldn’t have pried that kitten out of my arms with a crowbar (and you wouldn’t have wanted to try!)

From the books and articles I’ve read and the people I’ve questioned, I’ve come to understand that this is very close to the feelings a woman has after giving birth. It isn’t all in the hormones! When you have a heart that is ready, willing and able to love—you have a mother. I’m told that I can’t understand it since I’ve never experienced it, and I accept that that may be true. Like any momentous life event, living through it is the best lesson. But although it’s clearly not my destiny to have a human child of my own, that doesn’t stop me from feeling complete as a person or a woman—and I hope I’ll always be treated with the same understanding and acceptance I afford to women who choose the road more travelled.

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Please leave a comment

  1. Linn B Halton Says:

    I have a cat and two sons – the two sons flew the nest years ago, and now I have a new ‘boy’. He’s every bit as demanding as he’s spoilt (our choice) but he gives so much back and we even curtail our holidays because he gets upset when we are away! So ‘yes’ Bonnie, you are a Mother, because Mother = giving love. I really enjoyed reading this and it’s refreshing to read such an honest and open reflection!

  2. Nicky Wells Says:

    Bonnie, I love your feature, and your refreshing candour and honesty. I agree, when you get married, there is tremendous pressure (espeically on women) to progress through what people call the ‘natural’ cycle of events, including, of course, parenthood…. and it may not be the right avenue for everyone. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your perspectives–I think you rock! X

  3. Sheryl Browne Says:

    We fight wars for freedom of choice, Bonnie. Choosing not to be a mum doesn’t make you a less caring or loving person. And being honest and open about it might just prompt other people/couples, male or female, to realise it’s okay to consider their true feelings and ability to commit totally to a life they’ll create.

  4. elizabeth Says:


    I,too, made the decison not to have kids (except with David and once he passed away I dedided that door had closed) andI don’t regret it. I make very cool aunt to my nieces, nephews and friends’ kids and I feel that is my role on the maternal swing.
    My 6 rescued cats and yellow lab make me very happy and each one has their own personality so it like a family. No. it is a family. Wonderful post. I am sure you made some childless women smile at their choice – because it is the right choice for them.

  5. Beth Elisa Harris Says:

    I have 2, first by short marriage and second with dream guy…the hubster. I’ve thought a lot about this because I was a young mama by today’s standards and honestly? I am not sure had I waited if I would do it again. Don’t get me wrong…I adore my kids. They are awesome people and I did a damn good job. But I applaud women who take a step back and really think about this without caving to the linear expectations of marriage, family, and whatever follows. I am not a fan of do this now and that later…blueprints…hate ’em. If our ancestors had a choice there would be some who would opt out too. Women are human beings as different as snowflakes and kids are just one component of infinite life possibilities that don’t make anyone better or worse. And let me say this…we return to our selfish (not a bad word in my world), ambitious states we left when we had kids anyway, so you are just already there by the time we go full circle. Love this, Bonnie!

  6. Lavada Dee Says:

    I’m like Beth, young and not sure if I’d waited I would have had children but I’m so glad I did. I’m not like some women that LOVE all kids, they are little people and since I don’t like all people or I guess I should say enjoy all people it tends to fact that I wouldn’t enjoy all children. I’m also not a traditional type like cookie baking and nurturing but my kids are my friends. Best friends. We laugh and play together. There are very few days when they don’t either pop in or call. Our family is strong and we truly enjoy each other.

    Great post. I’ll look forward to future ones from Bonnie

  7. Crystal Jigsawc Says:

    This is a fabulous article, Bonnie. Believe it or not, I was never, and still am not, maternal. I did have a baby as you know; Amy, who is now 12 and the love of my life, but if I hadn’t had Amy I wouldn’t have yearned for a child. I probably wouldn’t have had any at all. I’ve never cooed over babies and get very impatient with other people’s children (sounds terrible doesn’t it, but it’s just the way I am).

    It’s certainly not selfish and should never be scoffed upon if a woman doesn’t want to have children – it’s a very personal choice. No one has a right to judge another person in any way.

    Kathryn x

  8. Dorothy-Ann Linehan Kaffl Says:

    “Having children does not necessarily make a woman a mother”
    To me a mother is someone who decorates their life with caring for and nurturing others with their wisdom, friendship and love.
    Lovely article Bonnie…Carry On!
    Dorf -( Dorothy-Ann Linehan Kaffl)
    The Mother of Three Sons
    and Mother to our Daughter – Clancy Jude – Our Furry Little Schnoodle – adopted from North Shore Animal League.

  9. Bonnie Trachtenberg Says:

    Thank you all for your lovely comments. It’s wonderful to hear the thoughts of others who can relate to something as personal (and often kept quiet) as this. The support is heartening!

  10. Karen Bergreen Says:

    Bonnie, loved this. i had children later –when I was on m last egg. Before that my love for my dog was so intense I used to say–I can’t believe he came out of me.” Great article–so thoughtful–and true

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