You want kids? Take mine!
You’ve all seen her, or know her- that woman who strokes the baby blankets in the baby aisle, and looks with longing at the crib sets and sighs at tiny shoes. She’s the one who switches to a longer line when she ends up behind a pregnant woman who is complaining about morning sickness on the phone to her mother, or that girl who never RSVPs that she’s coming to a baby shower and you don’t understand why. We are 1 in 8.
Maybe you are her, or are married to her. You both feel alone each time the pregnancy test comes back negative, or perhaps the point has come that you don’t bother with them anymore. Every time a radiologist asks if there’s any chance you’re pregnant you just laugh bitterly. (I know I do.) When your friends and family members announce a pregnancy (thoughtful ones announce to you first, so you have time to adjust privately) you cry, even though you really are happy for them- really! It just hurts. Again.
And here comes Mother’s Day again, the day that stings with reminders of what the 7 in 8 have and we don’t, or so it seems. It can remind us of what we do not, no longer, or may never be able to have. The day of macaroni art on refrigerators and adorably scribbled cards declaring love for Mommy. The day of flowers and breakfast in bed for all of the seemingly perfectly happy moms with their beautiful families. It’s all over Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat, and absolutely everywhere at church.
So… could you be one of the people unwittingly making this worse? How can you make it easier? I have answers for both questions! Even the most well meaning friend, coworker or church leader can unwittingly make a comment that can cut deep. And some of the time, the seemingly innocent words are the wrong ones.
Here are some of the things that your childless friends want you to stop saying to them:
1.“So, how many children do you have?” Followed by,“Why not?”, “Aw, but you’d make a great mother!”
2.Also: “Maybe you’re not trying hard enough.”
3.Then sometimes will come the conciliatory, “Maybe it’s not meant to be,” or “Perhaps it’s not God’s will just yet.” 4.“Don’t worry, if you’ll just relax and stop thinking about it, it will happen.”
5.“Have you tried ___________?”
6.“You want kids? Take mine!”
7.“You’re so LUCKY, I wish I could sleep in….”
8.“I know exactly how you feel!! I had to try for 3 MONTHS for my second baby. It was just awful.”
9.”You should really get over it. It’s not the end of the world.”
10.”Just adopt, then you’ll get pregnant!”
11.”You’ll understand when you have kids.”
12. The Grandma- “I have 17 Great-Grandchildren… no, they still haven’t had any.”….then “Any news on that yet?”
13. Don’t say “But you are a mother, in spirit.” That can be a hard thing to swallow, for a lot of women. For some it’s fine, and great.
So, now that we’ve covered some of the things that you may be saying that you didn’t realize were not helping, what can you do that will help BLESS the lives of your childless friends?
Here are some of the things that your childless friends/spouses want to tell you.
1.Remember us- we are 1 in 8.
2.Think before you speak.
3.You can help distract us! Sometimes we really need it, and your support means a lot.
4.Just because my feelings get hurt doesn’t necessarily mean I’m oversensitive- it can sometimes mean you’re insensitive.
5.We can make an effort to get along with pregnant people, if they can make an effort to not complain about how much it sucks to be pregnant.
6.Be an encourager, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on.
7. Flowers are nice for aunts, and godmothers and sisters too.
8. We can and should honor spiritual and honorary mothers and mentors- those who have contributed to our lives and given of themselves.
We can honor the mothers who bore us, and those who bear with us- perhaps it needs to be treated as more of a Women’s Day for us, with a focus on women being whatever kind of maternal figure she is intended to be. In Genesis 3:20, Eve was called the ‘mother of all living’ well before she had borne children. Women can be maternal (I’m not saying we’re mothers, just maternal influences) without children; as daughters of Eve. As women, we do not acknowledge enough the results of our influence.