A lot of the time people say you never miss what you haven’t had, and I guess that is true for a lot of things. I am not convinced that it is the same for parenthood though. I know that there will always be a part of me that misses not being a mother. After the reaction to Bibi Lynch’s article in The Guardian it really got me thinking of the things that make me sad about the possibility of never becoming a mother. Coupled with the comments on the article that said she should embrace being important in other children’s lives and the reaction to her comments on being an aunt it’s been an eye opener into how people don’t really understand. Her comments about being sad about being a beloved Aunt were taken to mean she saw it as second best and that she was selfish and immature for seeing it as so. Now I love being an Aunty and it was the huge joy my godchildren brought to my life that made me realise that yes I really did want to be a parent. But it isn’t the same as being a mother, I know that despite not knowing what it’s like to be a mother. My heart melted the first time I was called Auntie, ironically by my god-daughters cousin, the first time I was called Auntie by a child who properly knew me it made me smile for weeks. Especially as I have never presumed I should be called that, it is a title the children that call me that have decided I deserve, well apart from the nephews they had no choice! Being an Aunt is a tremendous honour, it’s a role I delight in and that brings me many smiles and happy times. I love the way small people are pleased to see us, I love buying them gifts, being there for events in their lives or being part of something that will always be a childhood memory. It’s a role that I hope will continue to bring mutual joy as they grow up and I grow old. But it’s a different role it isn’t the same as being someone’s parent.
I appreciate as a parent that I won’t jump out of bed every morning delighted to spend another day being unappreciated as I wipe bottoms, prepare food, soothe tantrums, worry incesently and juggle the demands of motherhood. But I do know that there will be many moments that will make up for the drudgery of motherhood, those smiles and memories of small moments that make parenthood worthwhile. So for me the things that I know I am missing by never being a parent are:
- never being called mummy (or mom or mum).
- never getting a home made mothers day card
- never seeing Villa Boy being called daddy or see him cuddle his own child better
- never being the one person who can make everything better – yes I give great cuddles to nephews, god-children, and other children we have close relationships with, but ultimately only mummy or daddy will do in some situations.
- never sneaking a look and seeing my children giving each other a big hug
- never looking at a thoroughly decent young person and thinking we helped shape that
- never looking in at my sleeping child before I go to bed
- never having to teach a child to ride a bike, ski, read, count, cook – yes I can help with this but it really isn’t the same, well I presume it’s not I get ridiculously excited at these things and can only imagine the excitement my own children achieving these things would bring
- never have a little person sneak into my bed night after night because it’s where they feel safest
- never attending a parent evening to talk about my child
- never watch my child being invested as a cub or brownie (as an ex cub leader this makes the list as again I watched with pride at other children and again can’t imagine the emotion of it being my own!)
- never having the choice in how many children we have
- never being the real annoyance to a teenager that only parents can be! Our friends with teenagers are the real annoyance, we are just their friends, I like to think that we are still in the “alright to grunt at category!” we are certainly never ignored in the same way as they ignore a parent !
- never filling my child’s christmas stocking. Yes I’ve helped and it’s exciting and lovely to see their faces on Christmas morning, but….
- It boils down to never being a family with children and all those silly things that come with it that make your family unique.
Having a child won’t make our lives perfect, we won’t suddenly become people that we’re not. There will be days (hey may be even weeks and months) when we think what were we thinking? why did we try so hard for this nightmare? were we mad? We’re big enough and grown up enough to know that. Parenthood is no doubt a different type of heartbreak, hoping, misery and drudgery but one that I would give anything to experience.