I am not less able to have compassion for others because I have not been a mother

This post is in response to a blog post that I read the other day. I sent this to her in an email, but I wanted to post it here as well. I will not quote her directly, as I am not trying to flame her, or take away from the good that she is trying to do on her blog.

Basically she says that mothers (and she does specifically say mothers, not parents) connect to stories of children with problems in ways beyond the comprehension those of us without children. She also says that the same stories tug at the hearts of mothers more than those who are not mothers.

This is my response to her:

I am not a mother. Not for lack of wishing for it with all my heart. There is not a day that goes by that I do not have some thought of if I had been able to have children, and probably at least 1 day out of three that I shed tears over what I have missed.

I am a pediatric physical therapist. I have spent the last 28 years taking care of and loving other people’s children. Many of them have permanent problems, some of them have had degenerative problems. I was an MDA Summer camp counselor for over 20 years. I read your “about me” section, and you mention that you struggled to conceive your son. Imagine that you did not have this success, imagine that you ended up at 50 without a child (there are many people that fertility treatments do not work for, and many reasons that adoption is not the answer). And then imagine that someone tells you that you cannot love enough because you were never a mother, or that your opinions do not matter because you were never a mother, or you see people write that their children are what gives their lives meaning (so does that mean that your life therefor is meaningless?)

I do understand that people’s lives change when they become parents, and that there is a love for your children that is different than any other love that you have felt. There are plenty of people in this world who do not have children who dedicate their lives to research to cure diseases, to caring for children and people who cannot care for themselves. One could even make an argument that those of us who do not have children are able to dedicate more of ourselves to our careers, research etc. I know that over the years I have given more of myself to my patients and their families than I would have been able to do if I had children of my own to go home and care for. Although I absolutely love my job, and my patients and their families, I would have happily been a bit less of a therapist to allow for time dedicated to my family. But I was not given that choice. So I take great offense at your assumption that I cannot connect to these stories, that I cannot have the same passion for a cause as a parent would have. I am not a second class citizen, or less valuable, or less able to love or have passion because I was unable to have children.

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