If you read my last blog post, you already know how I feel about the philosophy that "everything happens for a reason." So when I came across another blog post entitled, "Childless Queens" recently, I absorbed the words with a mix of bitterness and dismay. I should preface this by saying that I've never appreciated when people with no experience attempt to expound on a particular subject. Constance, who writes a blog called "Queens of Constance," is a mother of four who in her latest post theorizes on why some women are childless. I've copied it here to save you from having to navigate to a different webpage, though it's also linked above. I wonder if I'm the only one who has taken a bit of offense to her view on why we are childless....
From Constance of Queens of Constance:
I have always believed in a universal wisdom, karma, a knowledge that everything happens for a reason.Yet some of the biggest hearted women I know have, through circumstances and different biological factors been left without children.
While some choose not to have kids, others are women who wanted them desperately, women who had more to offer children than I could have dreamt. We’re left with empty wombs and shattered hearts. Adopting is much easier said than done and fostering can come with its own set of heartaches.
My faith in the universe has been challenged, why would I be given 4 babies and some be given none? It can’t be a coincidence that the women with such a shining gift of warmth to offer a child were so often the ones left without. All that warmth and love goes to waste?
It absolutely does not. Then I learnt something really powerful, there is a reason.. There is always a reason..
Children are a 24 hour job, a 24 hour blessing. But at the same time they hold us to them which limits our movements. Some women are too powerful to be tied to their own children, too warm to be limited to one family. Some women need to be free to help, love, spread warmth all across the universe.
Some children need women without children of their own, if it’s just an inspiring chat at the shops one day, a deeper friendship that is hard to have with their own parents, even more of a hands on role to improve their lives, generating money for their community or simply a voice for the voiceless.
If you are a queen who wanted children but wasn’t blessed with any, remember that the reason could be because you yourself are a blessing and you have no idea how desperately the world needs you.
And you’re going to continue to inspire, reach and change the lives of everyone you touch. With no children of your own you are able touch so many more. There is nothing more queenly than that.
Don’t ever question yourself, your queen-hood or your power.
Love Con xx
In summary, Constance believes that some women need to not be "tied" to a family of their own because the universe demands they be available to attend to anyone else that may be in need at any time. I take issue with virtually every angle of her "epiphany"- that only the childless can effectively care for some, and that those blessed with children are no longer able to "help, love, and spread warmth across the universe." To be told, "You're too stong to be tied down," feels trite and condescending- like something my dad would say to cheer me up after a failed audition. "You're too good for them, honey!" Especially coming from a woman who has been so abundantly blessed in the children department. WE are left with empty wombs and shattered hearts, Constance. You are left with a beautiful family.
The notion that the there is a "universal wisdom" which has designated some women as childless because there are needs in the world that ONLY childless women can attend to is problematic. I believe it is the responsibility of every human being, man or woman, single or married, parent or childless, to be attentive to the needs of those around us. One of the best ways we can do this is by investing in and helping to build strong and inclusive communities where those who are neglected by first-degree family have a welcome place to find support and love. Our society has strayed far from the community model toward an individualistic one, and it shows- in the crime rate, the bigotry, the number of children abandoned or abused. At the root of this heartache is the broken family. What more noble purpose then can a person serve than to raise children into the types of adults who will effect positive change and will themselves "help, love, and spread warmth all across the universe?" That is the most sacred thing a person can do in this life! To think that a great wisdom (whom I call that "God") deems a "simple chat in a shop one day" to be more important to humanity than parenting a child- and to go as far as to think THAT is the reason I'm childless- is ridiculous. No, we are not infertile because it is our duty to care for the forsaken- that is the duty of us ALL.
My dear friend comes to mind. She struggled to conceive for six years, enduring multiple fertility treatments to no avail. After investing in the adoption process, opening their hearts to three older children from the Congo, she and her husband suspected corruption within the agency and decided to fly to Africa to investigate. The week they left she discovered she was expecting a miracle baby. Upon arriving in the Congo, they found that the agency had been attempting to traffic the children to the U.S. when they actually had a family. She and her husband chose to not complete the adoption. She then went on a successful crusade to close the unethical agency and co-authored a book on how Christians can answer the call to help redeem international adoption. Now, as the mother of two children, she lives in Africa and works as a humanitarian lawyer, advocating for child victims of abuse. What part of being a mother has limited her ability to be an explosive force for good in the world? Her most inspiring work began during her years of motherhood!
It IS true that mothers must be attentive to their children first and foremost, but let us remember that children only need undivided attention for a fraction of a woman's life. There is a time and a place for everything. A time to prioritize one's own children, (though still not limiting oneself from being helpful to others...) and a time when they are grown and one can be freer to expand her generous spirits to others- the way my own aunt has. Her children are now in high school and college, and she is free to travel to Haiti to help minister to orphans. She may not have been able to do this when her children were younger, but nothing about her motherhood has prevented her from giving of herself in this manner now. Women can BOTH mother children, adopted or biological, AND be dynamic agents of good in the world. In fact, mothering children is one of the most important ways a woman can effect positive change for the world! What the world needs is strong parents. Parents to directly effect the future in raising their own children and through that experience develop new skills that will help other children should the need arise as well. Becoming a parent could only increase the ways in which a person can "spread warmth across the universe" in the way it brings someone outside of herself and demands she put the needs of someone else first. So if the universe were really doling out fertility based on personality traits and a misguided notion of what could benefit the whole most, I would argue that it needs to re-evaluate the situation.
If there is ANY reason that I am childless, it is because I have a chronic disease that has damaged my fertility. Disease exists because humans are subject to the repercussions of our separation from God- both spiritual and physical. There is precious little understanding of this condition, and I wasn't diagnosed soon enough to preserve my optimum fertility. Of course God can take this brokenness and repurpose it for the betterment of my soul and for the world- if I am open to accepting what that reality would look like. But I'll not believe He intentionally designed me as broken so that I would be more available to "spread warmth across the universe" in a way that (apparently) only childless women can.... If I am blessed with children, I will continue to care for the children I teach, I will seek to help those who appear to be in need should I encounter them, and I will teach my children to do the same.
Lastly, there IS a reason many of the most "shining" and "warm" women are left without children when they want them desperately. But I do not believe it is because the "great wisdom" has designated them to be the guardians of others (general), nor do I believe it is a coincidence. I believe it is because those who suffer have greater empathy, a more heightened awareness to recognize suffering in others and first-person experience to motivate them to respond to the needs they see. It is the experience of suffering that has made them this way, not the other way around. And through their journey of suffering, they develop strength to overcome the most challenging of trials, patience to endure the unexpected, perspective to shed light on questions and weigh disappointments, and compassion to more fully embrace those they encounter. And don't you think those qualities would make an amazing mother? What do you think, friends?