I recently came across two blog posts that set my brain in motion. One is of an Italian blogger, who tries to convey some of the feelings linked to not being a mother when faced with some of the most common statements of mothers; the other one is of an American blogger, who explains (or again, tries to) the changes in the life of a mother when the creature is born and her rhythm is totally upset. And apologizes with her friends who have no children, for the lack of time and concentration on their friendship, now that her days are full of diapers, sleepless nights and baby food. I say they both try because in fact I think no topic is thornier than motherhood for women who can’t or don’t want to have children, and childlessness for mothers (I hope I can explain myself clearly). That’s why I don’t want to judge neither of them. Still, as motherhood has been (and still is) such an important part of my life, I want to share some thoughts that these two posts stirred in me.
Let’s go with the first one: it’s true, mothers maintain of having gone through an experience that is unique and that you can’t understand unless you have had a child yourself, while Sara is sure to know and understand the immense love only mothers can feel for their children. And while I am sure Sara, as a person who has loved and loves other human beings, can understand how big the love of a mother for her child is, there is something you can definitely grasp only when you become a parent: It’s the trauma you experience when you realise that you will never ever be on your own again, and that you will forever be responsible of having put a person in this world. I know this because I used not the be a mother, once. And when I became one, along with the immense joy that this brings, I was also shocked by the irreversibility of the situation. Something it takes you (or at least me) a long time to come to terms with.
Another thing I notice among my friends (female and male alike) who have no children, is a different attitude towards time. Having a child is an incredibly practical exercise in putting your needs aside, in silencing them, in learning that your priorities cannot be considered priorities any longer, that it changes your mindset completely. And I am not saying you become a better person, but you definitely learn to come to terms with time in a different way.
Apart from all these interesting thoughts Sara’s post provoked, I think there is something very valuable in what she wrote. Something mothers should think about more often when they say non-mothers cannot understand. That is, we (mothers) also cannot understand what it means to want a child who never comes. Some of us had to wait a long time and went through hell before becoming mothers, others simply had to give up. And I am sure of that, it will never be possible to really understand what this means if you do not go through the experience directly. The deepness of the sorrow. But also: can we understand what it means to have a child with another woman, the woman you love? Are we sure we can grasp the magnitude of the impact of all the comments, discrimination, hidden looks that these mothers most certainly have to face again and again? I don’t think so. So in the end what I like to think is that we learn to relate in the best possible way as mothers and non mothers, learning and respecting each others’ experience and using the diversity that the different situations have generated as a richness.
As for the second post, my reflection is a bit more personal and linked to my specific life path. After reading it, I found myself going back in time, when my children were born, and I realised immediately that being an expat mother sets me in a completely different arena. When Alessandro came to this world, I had already lived abroad for more than two years. I gave birth in my city, but my friendships had already undergone a process of separation and readjustment. Having Alessandro fill my days did not really change a lot the routine my friends were used to: they did not have me, even before. And when Mattia was born, that was even more extreme, because I had added two more countries and four more years abroad to my life and friendships.
But of course I can understand what Janie means: taking care of a baby eats away your time and energies, and you are no longer available for long nights out, drinks after work, and whole afternoons of chats. Still, it’s not just a baby that change all this. A new lover can also disrupt rhythms – I am sure you all have had friends who fell in love and disappeared because they wanted to spend all of their time with the new love. Or that – like in my case – decided to go and live abroad. There are so many reasons why a friendship can undergo changes. The good news is that everything adjusts to changes. But of course, while we wait for this to happen, it is only safe and sound to communicate to our friends what is going on – like Janie did.
Allow me to finish this post by sharing a nice video that spreads a bit of humor on the topic: