Enough: The mom I was created to be

owl2013_3For February’s topic for the One Little Word study, I’m looking at the idea of being “mom enough.” Kinda crazy, considering I’m not a mom, right? I promise this isn’t going to be a dedication to my fur kids, although you know they’ll come up.

This topic is one of the hardest for me to write about because it brings up many issues that I have always tried very hard to avoid. Here’s the thing: When we decided to not have children, I had mixed feelings. Because of my disability, the whole topic of childbearing is often painful for me but not for the reasons you might be thinking at this point.

Painful topic

It’s easy for people to just assume that I’m barren because of the Spina Bifida and they feel the freedom to ask me about it (which, in case you’re unclear is really rude). I’ve always felt defensive about it and making the decision to not have children for reasons not related to my disability seemed to go against everything I’ve ever thought or said on the subject.

Let me clarify something here. It’s not the idea of being able to have children or not that was bothering me. It was the idea that the assumed infertility could be related to my disability. Although I always knew I was different, there has been this idea in the back of my mind since I was about 14 that a man would have to sacrifice to marry me because of my disability. If a disability caused the problem, then that was another way that he would have to sacrifice. Messed up, I know. But it’s an emotional response that has haunted me for years.

Fast forward to us getting married nearly five years ago. We had agreed for several reasons that we would not have children. I knew and agreed that having children was not the best thing for our lives yet my heart still had that desire to nurture, to love. It has that desire to nurture, to love.

What I’m realizing, though, is that my need to nurture, to grow life doesn’t have to mean that I give birth or even that I adopt human children. My “momness” doesn’t have to be in the traditional form to be fulfilling. God gave me this life for a reason and he gave me the desire to nurture for a reason. The question remains for me just how that will play out.

Furbaby momma

all 4 fur kidsAs silly as this probably seems to many of you, I believe that part of that is through my pets. As much as this makes me sound like the proverbial “crazy cat lady,” I believe that God created all life and we humans were put in charge of the earth and of God’s creatures. This means we take care of them. I feel my two cats and two dogs’ care was entrusted to me and in return, I’m finding that they can, in their own way, be good citizens. I’m hoping that my two dogs will become certified therapy dogs and my two cats play a significant role in our home as well.

Cool Aunt Jamie

photo 2
Me and the nephew
Me and the nieces. They are getting so big!  They are beautiful inside and out.
Me and the nieces. They are getting so big! They are beautiful inside and out.

I’ve also been blessed to become an aunt. My brother and his wife have twin daughters who are nearly two years old and a son who is about five months old. I rarely get to see them because we live 12 hours apart. I make sure to develop a relationship with them in all the ways possible thanks to Skype. They know who Aunt Jamie is and that she loves them. My aunts both had roles in my life that still carry on today and I want to be that kind of positive influence for these little ones.

The right fit

Part of this sounds like I’m just telling myself all this as a consolation prize. Believe me, it sometimes even sounds like that in my own head. But something I’m learning is, we were all put on this planet for a reason. If we don’t live up to that purpose, we will live perpetually in a life that is unfulfilling. Yet if we strive to be something we aren’t designed to be, that we are meant to be, we will only grow frustrated and find heartache.

Instead of feeling like I’ve settled for this role, I’m choosing to feel blessed. What an honor it is to be that supporting role of aunt, of friend. There are many children in my life who I can bless by being a trusted adult that is safe and loving.

I may not be a mother, but I still cherish the idea of motherhood. I can honor the role in my own way, in the way I was created to be.

 

I am Enough

17 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Beautifully said!! I push against anyone telling me that I need to live a “normal” life or make the “traditional” choices. Blessings and a Blessed life are simply blessings. So thankful that they don’t have to be defined by someone else. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  2. Awesome post – well said. Having raised a half a dozen two-legged children. God has blessed me with a life that allows me to open my home to four-legged children now. It wasn’t my plan but one day I woke up and realized my plan had changed with little effort. I applaud you for raising therapy dogs – what a blessing!

  3. Having children is personal, and everyone is entitled to their own choice. What I don’t understand is why some people feel they can comment on that? I have a friend with several children and people feel like they can tell her she is overpopulating the earth or that she must be crazy. I guess people don’t understand why everyone doesn’t want to make the exact same decisions they do. I’m glad you shared!

  4. Leslie, I so don’t get that either. Why tell someone they are overpopulating the earth? What a hateful thing to say. I must admit that this process has taught me a lot about some preconceived notions I used to have.

    Thanks for reading!

  5. Before I was every Ladybug’s mom, I was Lucy and Dory’s mom. I still am. I don’t love them any less because I have Ladybug now. They’re still my girls, and when something happens to them I will be devastated.

    As someone who wanted children desperately for years, tried for what seemed like forever, and suffered a miscarriage, I’ve learned that people never know how to act when others don’t have children for one reason or another. I HOPE to have grown past preconceived notions and rudeness.

    I admire you for choosing to feel blessed. Sometimes some of us have to choose to be happy, because happiness and blessings really do come in unexpected places and methods rather than what is considered the norm.

  6. Adrienne,

    Thanks so much for coming by and for commenting! I truly hope that my heart came across in this as a personal decision for me and that it did not affront those women who are trying to have children. I think another common misconception is that women who choose to not have children do so because they don’t love children or aren’t nurturing. I wanted to be able to show that is not necessarily true. I know it’s a misconception I had for a long time!

  7. So brave for you to put this out there in the blogosphere! Lots of people have a physical mom, but not a nurturing mom. Sounds like God has gifted you to fill a void for someone exactly like that.

  8. Deborah, thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts! I never really thought of it that way, that I could fill a void for someone. Ironically, what I thought of was being a supplement! Thanks for stretching my mind on this topic even further.

  9. Awesome thoughts, Jamie. As a currently childless woman, I can identify with a lot of it. May God continue to bless you in whatever you do. ~AJ~

  10. I am sitting here reading each line twice. I am so thankful you are a champion for kids. We are so lucky. I happened to stumble upon this post. I am a mom but I can relate in some ways. I think you are beautiful. This post just proves it. I am looking forward to getting to know you better. I WILL BE BACK!!!!

  11. I was fortunate enough to have two aunts who never had children, but they played huge roles in their nieces’ and nephews’ lives. We adored them. They lived in Washington DC, and we lived in Arkansas, but I always felt close to them. They came home every year and stayed in touch back when that meant long-distance calls and letters. You are absolutely right to embrace and be who God made you to be. I apologize for all those rude people who don’t get it! (I have grandchildren who are launching out in life, so my current babies are three funny cats. I love them!)

  12. My favorites, when folks learn we had six, are:

    1. “All the same parents?!”
    2. “You must be homeschoolers!”
    3. “I’ll bet you stayed busy!”

    The answer, to all three, is “yes”.

    I think a lot of people are just trying to make conversation. Others are trying to quell their vain imaginations, to know a person better, or to cover for their shock at what they think of “what’s wrong with this picture”. Still others are simply more open and honest (or careless) and always say whatever pops into their heads. God love ’em!

    I, myself, for some reason, actually thought you, Jamie, HAD children. Hope that makes you laugh, because I am feeling rather silly right now, admitting it. 😉 Probably it was the photos of the nieces and nephew, coupled with my not paying close enough attention to everyone’s childbearing decisions. Ha.

    However, I feel you have made a right choice, not because I think I know your circumstances and I should judge whether you are right or not, but because I think you know what you are doing and are a big enough girl to walk in it.

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