I was well mothered growing up, not only by my mother, but also by many other women. Our backyard neighbor, Shirley Jones (who had 2 boys but no girls), showed me how to crack eggs into a bowl without putting a shell in them, and how to pick pansies, which she had in abundance. My aunt Hazel (who had no children) provided books and an example of the pleasure of reading, which she did at every opportunity. She also taught me and my brother how to fish, which she did when it wasn’t raining, and sometimes even when it was raining. My mum made sure I got music lessons as soon as I could make use of it and also allowed me to play on horseback well past the age when her stepmother thought I should be quit. I think I had a wonderfully diverse set of role models of femininity, as well as permission to choose from among them.
Like me, many of my closest friends chose not to have children. Some of us had already changed so many diapers by the time we reached childbearing age that we weren’t going to fall in love with the romance of having a family. Some of us also knew at that time that we didn’t really have the aptitude for self-submersion that we observed around us. But that didn’t stop us from being drawn into other people’s families and providing some of the ancillary support that we ourselves received from other women. It’s almost impossible not to. Right now I’m crocheting a blanket for a baby girl due to be born in June who I’ll probably never meet and whose mother I don’t know because her older sister is my mother’s dog walker and all that. what I hear from my mother is their mother’s pregnancy. I couldn’t resist the variable peach pink yarn.
They say it takes a whole village to raise a child, and they mean it. This means that while our parents are essential, they are not enough to provide all the skills and examples of how to be in the world that a budding person needs. Henri Nouwen writes that it was the acquaintance of his uncle, a celibate priest, which led him to the priesthood and the spiritual worker and writer he became. The difference for men, of course, is that they’re not wired to be fathers. They can start a pregnancy, but they don’t have to end it.
So people who have decided it is morally right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with the pregnancy she may not want or who are qualified to provide 24 hour support on 24 and 7 days a week for years, even decades of his life, really did not take into account the basic needs of children. It takes a village, a village largely of women who together provide 24/7 support for infants, covering each other’s gaps and necessary rest periods until those children are large enough to be entrusted to the various cares of men. It takes childless women as well as mothers to mother the world. Let’s celebrate them all.
Trudy Wischemann (aka Sam) is a writer who crochets when needed. You can send her your maternity stories c/o Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette.