A Mother’s Day PSA

A few thoughts in honor of Mother’s day:

I’ve also been lucky that while I frequently get questioned about children, most people are well-intentioned. While some of the questions have been truly off the wall (do you have kids? Why not? Don’t you like kids? But you don’t LOOK like you can’t have kids) the majority have been quite respectful, which I appreciate.

And yet so many people have asked me, “Do you have a family?”, and I’ve always been stumped for an answer. Of course I have a family—I’m blessed with a loving husband and two 4-legged children with whiskers and tails. I have a sister, and other family members that care about me.

Almost everyone has a family, either by blood or by love.

But thOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAat’s not what those (well-meaning) people are asking. When they say, “Do you have a family?” what they mean is, “Do you have children?” There is a world of difference between those questions, and to miss that distinction is to miss out on the value of all sorts of bonds.

Please consider the words you choose.

Yes, I have a family. No, I don’t have children. I don’t know if I can get pregnant; I’ve never tried. I do know that I’ve chosen not to get pregnant or adopt because my medical issues are significant enough that I don’t have the physical energy and stamina to be the kind of mother that every child deserves. I do hope that changes and I don’t know what’s in store.

I suppose that’s probably too long to fit on a t-shirt.

While it fits for me, it also leaves out all sorts of people who choose not to have children for more perfectly valid reasons than I can count. In fact, I’d suggest that all reasons are perfectly valid and none of your (or my) business.

Happy Mother’s day to all of you who have given your time, energy and love to “mother”, nurture and care for children, elders, friends, animals, nature…

About Cheryl Harris

Life played a funny trick on me. I've studied nutrition for years, and much to my surprise, found out that I could manage many of my health issues via diet. I've been GF for years, and I've got a bunch of allergies and sensitivities. But it definitely doesn't keep me from cooking, baking and enjoying my food. Thanks for stopping by.
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4 Responses to A Mother’s Day PSA

  1. Sally says:

    I haven’t done fertility treatments for a similar reason; I don’t know if my body could take the extra stress.

    The adoption profiles that say, “Help us start our family” always make me sad. Couples are definitely a family! Dan and I were quite a happy family for seven years before we had Liam. To discount, for me, would mean we weren’t bonded as a couple, and we certainly are.

    That said, as I was puzzling through all of this child stuff emotionally, when my endo pain increased enormously the first few months of Liam’s life and I felt horribly guilty, my therapist asked, “Do you think handicapped parents are necessarily unworthy parents?” My answer was an emphatic, “No, of course not.” “What about moms who work and have nannies?” “Nope.” She pointed out there’s a wide range of people who need assistance from others to be able to parent up to their own standard. That requires resources, and resources often require money that families may or may not have. But I had created a false dichotomy in my head about myself that I wouldn’t apply to others. We got a part-time nanny for Liam for the months until I had recovered from surgery (and fortunately, the surgery worked, or we’d still have that arrangement now). I was able to rest, and I was able to be a mama to him, as well. . . . Not saying that’s an answer for you or anyone else, but it opened a space in my mind and heart for me to be a successful parent without it being exactly what I originally envisioned.

  2. Debi says:

    *big hugs to you* I know people mean well when they ask the initial question, but it’s that one we dread along with the follow up to our answer.

  3. ” but it opened a space in my mind and heart for me to be a successful parent without it being exactly what I originally envisioned.”
    Thank you, Sally–I’m reminded again why I miss your blog! I appreciate your words, and I’m also really happy that you have the energy to spend with Liam.

  4. Debi–
    Thanks. I hope it gets less awkward with time. This year I’ve gotten the question a lot more often.

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