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Nobody's Mother on Mother's Day

My mother and her baby (my baby sister) who eventually went on to be the only one of us to have a baby."Happy Mother's Day!" He said, so happy and bright and full of expectation.

In the past I used to say, "Oh, I'm not a mother" but that seemed to endlessly disappoint the black men who said this to me with all the vigor saying it to their own beloved mothers. So now, unless someone on Twitter or Facebook says it to me (aka, my friends who should know I ain't birthed nobody's baby), I just smile and nod and go on.

But this happens because I'm in my mid-30s and, statistically, I should be someone's mother by now. I'm a once married (more than a decade ago) African American woman over 30. How did I make it this far without a kid? The answer is an easy one.

Modern science + chronic singledom + workaholic + barely dating + occasional long periods of abstinence = no baby.

I mean, you do have to DO something to get a baby and I don't do the things you need to do to end up with child. I have no steady boyfriend nor that thing you have when he's not your boyfriend, but you still "do it." I have no husband. I only recently started dating again. I realize people like to pretend like black women get pregnant all on their lonesome, but you really do need some man (or at least his sperm) to be involved to make that baby happen. Right now, I'm still in "keeping these eggs to myself" mode. Which wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that I actually want children.

I love children. I love babies. Heck, on certain days when they're not of the surly variety, I like teenagers. I love kids. But I don't have any of my own out of fear of having kids with the ... dun dun dun ... wrong person.

Nothing terrifies me more than sharing DNA with someone who turns out to be a lunatic, or abusive, or a magician pulling disappearing acts, and skipping out on raising his kid. I realize that most men are not these things. But then there's the issue of just pure compatibility and love. I want to have a kid out of love, within the confines of a loving, healthy relationship. Hahahahaha. I might as well say I'd like to have a child on the moon since those are also really hard to come by. It's not that people don't have them. I see people in relationships. Some very happy and functional. But I know a lot of unhappy, dysfunctional ones too. 

Love is a crap shoot. I don't care what all those Steve Harvey books say. Some of the worst people ever have a partner. They didn't follow not nary one tip anyone ever gave. They had sex on the first date. They met in the club. They didn't watch Oprah. They read no books. Yet they ended up with someone, sometimes someone ten times better than their sorry ass deserved. So you end up saying dumb crap, like, "I'm going to be a bad boy/bitch because women/men like bad boys/bitches." But you're still neither of those things, so you just suck at it and people can see through you, then run away because you're creepily inauthentic. 

Even my parents, who have a great marriage going on 41 years, met purely be accident. My mother showed up at my father's apartment one day and that awkward, sweet little pretty woman turned out to be the love of his life. He didn't know it was going to last forever. No one can game these sort of things. And being it was the 70s, they got engaged after six months and were married six months later. I know folks who've been with the same person for a decade and are at Chrissy Jones-levels of "DAMMIT, MARRY ME" and the relative Jim Jones in their lives are like "Errrruuuuhhhh."

When I asked my father for dating advice he actually gave me the "It happened on accident" story and told me all I could do was try to level my playing field. That I wasn't doing anything right or wrong because there's no right or wrong way. It's a crap shoot, so maybe be the best you, you can be and meet more people, was his advice.

None of this ends up with "baby" at the end though. None of this guarantees motherhood in the very specific way I want motherhood. But in my desire to have what I truly want, will time tick away my chances at having a kid? After all, I can meet the love of my life at 50, but my chances of pushing out a baby at 50 (or still wanting to at half-a-century) are nil. Hopefully if I end up never being anyone's mother, the sacrifice will be worth it. As in, maybe I gave up having a kid to pursue my dreams and if my dreams come true I can just adopt.

Of course, as my sister says, I'll always have my nephew, who will greatly benefit if he continues to be the only child in this family full of aunts with disposable income and no kids. That kid's going to grow up thinking "aunties" don't have children, they have nephews.

And he's going to give me that look like, "And really, isn't that enough?" 

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Reader Comments (5)

Enjoyed this post. I'm 61 and not a mother either due to all kinds of modern science (thank you modern science), wrong boyfriends (no thanks to those Bozos), and I include a short career as a pre-school teacher during the "my clock is running out years" (keeping me tuned into the reality of childhood's demands). I always thought I would have kids but I hit the snooze alarm on my biological clock a few too many times. If someone says "Happy Mother's Day" to me, I just smile. I do look like I could be someone's Mom and I do my best to mother things along when I can. There is no such thing as any child getting too much love and attention. My friends with children have appreciated my availability with their own and my nieces and nephews love me big time! Happy Mother's Day!

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I'm 42 with no children. I waited until I finished grad school, got married, moved to GA and bought a house before procreating. And just as I was ready my husband up and dies. After a lengthy mourning period, I found another husband, but he had mumps as a child and it's questionable if he can do the deed. So.........

It kills me that folks can be so callous to box all Black women up. Some of us wanted children but life said no. There is no need to to slap us in the face with what we already know.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSerenity

I'm 41, do not have children and do not want children...but when children say 'Happy Mother's Day' I smile

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercb

I have always loved kids but didn't want any of my own. But life doesn't always go according to the script. I'm 66. I have a daughter, now 37, and a beautiful granddaughter, 15, who is the love of my life. I also raised my youngest brother after our mother died when he was 7. I think people who don't have kids are pretty lucky, because with the way the world is today, you aren't always worried about their safety as they navigate the world. You always worry about them regardless of how old they are. Society can make a woman feel as though something is wrong with her if she doesn't want a family. They ignore the fact that we don't all want the same things in life. I wish everyone who wishes to be a mother a healthy, happy baby. Happy Mothers' Day to all.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFran

I really liked this post, and the comments that came with it. I, and quite a few women I know personally (at least 12 I can think of without trying too hard) fall into the same categories as you Danielle - age group, the reasons, the ambitions, modern science :-). How's that for us bucking all these stereotypes? Happy Mother's Day to all those who nurture and care for those who need it. And congratulations to all of you who've already figured out that being a mother is not a requirement for womanhood, doesn't have to define you and that you can have a wonderful life with or without it.

May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie
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