October 5, 2015

I’m Not a Mother, but I Know Love.


When you’re a 30-something-year-old woman with no children, everyone has an opinion about it—and they love to tell you what it is.

I have heard everything from “you’ll change your mind,” to “maybe you just haven’t met the right guy yet,” to “who will look after you when you’re old?”

But perhaps the worst thing people like to say to me is, “You won’t know true love until you become a mother.”

I’m not saying I know the love a mother has for their child. How can I? I’m not a mother. But, condemning a woman to a loveless life if she has chosen not to (or has been unable to) have children seems a little unfair.

I’m not a mother, but does that mean I don’t know love?

I’m a teacher. I know what it feels like to watch a child grow and develop and learn. I know how it feels to want the very best for someone. I know how it feels to be invested in the progress and future of a child. I know what it’s like to show extreme patience and to fail at patience. I know what it means to be a part of another’s success and failures, joy and sorrow. I’ve wiped butts and spoon fed and cleaned up puke and sung to sleep. I’ve consoled heart break and calmed exam stress. I’ve sheltered, and I’ve opened doors. I’m not a mother, but I have mothered.

I’m not a mother, but does that mean I don’t know love?

I’m a lover. I’ve put my dreams on hold for the dreams of another. I have compromised and sacrificed. I’ve bathed the sick and the injured and nursed back to health. I’ve fed and I’ve cleaned up after. I’ve felt the gut-wrenching fear for the life of another. I’ve longed for and missed someone. My heart has skipped a beat at the sound of a ringing phone, and I have laid comfortably—content, knowing all is right with the world.

I’m not a mother, but does that mean I don’t know love?

I’m a daughter—and a sister. I know how it feels to be part of someone—to feel someone else’s blood running thick in your veins, to feel the threads of kinship weakening and strengthening like the ebb and flow of a tide. I know how it feels to be bonded to someone from a depth that extends far beyond anything you can describe or name. I know how it feels to know someone but not know them at all.

I’m not a mother, but does that mean I don’t know love?

I’m an aunt. I know how it feels to love someone so fiercely that you would offer your life to protect them. I know how it feels for your heart to be full to the point of overflowing. I look at my nieces who are so clearly of their father, my brother, which makes them of me. There is a familiarity when I look at them. I sense the same feeling of familiarity being experienced by them, though perhaps less understood, when they look at me.

Love refers to a variety of emotions and virtues—interpersonal affection, pleasure, attraction, desire, intimacy, passion, attachment. Or kindness, compassion, loyalty, concern, commitment, care.

Love, to me, is not a rush of hormones.

It’s an action. It’s how you interact with others, with your environment and with yourself.

Love is a commitment to loving thoughts and loving actions. Love is a way of life.

I’m not a mother, but I know love. My whole existence is led by it.



To My Mum.


Author: Cath Witten

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/PHOTO VANOVA

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