MOTHERHOOD

1334a56742ca42ee5de3ee4447a4bcadImage care of To Wander and Seek Photography

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. This quote popped into my head recently when I was talking to a friend over a glass of red about the choice to have a baby, or to not. Some women just know. They feel it in their bones and it rests under their skin. It is a knowing so powerful that the thought of it not happening is, well, unthinkable. And the rest of us – we just aren’t really sure. When I think of motherhood, I think of my own poor Mum who didn’t sleep every Saturday night for six years when I was a teenager, out partying. How sometimes she still loses sleep worrying about my happiness. Am I cut out for that huge responsibility? The single most important job of my life.

The next day, I pondered this idea further. Why is it that some of us feel a strong urge to procreate and some of us hesitate. Isn’t there a universal belief that us ladies are all just running around sniffing the heads of newborns, our hormones raging every time we see a pair of baby-sized Chuck Taylors.

Ok, I’ll admit, they get me every time – they’re just so tiny!

As my thoughts wandered, a memory slipped into my consciousness. I was about 23, wearing a backless dress and dancing to a live band in a Gold Coast bar. I turned around and through the crowd I could see my boyfriend at the time and his friend talking to a woman. She looked to be in her late 30’s/early 40’s. I didn’t think much of it and turned back to the band. She loitered around us for most of the night. Apparently she was a real estate agent, but she was also a psychic. Being a narrow-minded scientist, I laughed at the career mix, but was polite and respectful of her vocation.

At some point in the night, I escaped my new friend and went back to the dance floor. I was lost in the music and my G&T when all of a sudden someone behind me was running their fingers down my back. I turned around and there she was – watching me. Post four gins, I wasn’t overly affected by her. Inappropriate touching in a Gold Coast bar was status quo. I ignored her and went back to dancing.

Suddenly she snaked her arm around my waist and rested her chin on my shoulder whilst she spoke…

“You’re not in love with him. He’s not the one.”

My body went cold, but I didn’t move.

“You don’t know if you want to have children. You are afraid of the depth of your own love. Whether you do, or you don’t, you will find ways to be a mother.”

At 23, I hadn’t given it any thought yet. I just presumed I would have babies when I was older. That was just what you did…wasn’t it?

I pulled away from her, royally creeped out, and walked over to my boyfriend, complaining.

“That psychic bitch is crazy! Let’s go.”

All the way home on the bus, it niggled at me. Who the hell did she think she was. She was definitely wrong.

Fast forward a few years and her words filled my head. “You will find ways to be a mother.”

I rolled that word around my mind like a marble and wondered – could it be that some of us are born with the desire to carry children – and some of us just aren’t. But are we still born to be mothers in our own way?

I sponsor a kiwi girl in the north island every month. She is eight years old and she has two other siblings. Her mother is going it alone and has health problems so she can’t work. Her 11 year old sibling took a job delivering papers to make some money for the family. Forty dollars a month is nothing to me, but everything to them. I have friends who are buddies to kids from tough family situations – taking them out on the weekends and giving them much needed attention and guidance. I have another friend who finds homes for unwanted animals. I know another who looked after her sister’s baby every Sunday, because she was suffering from postnatal depression and needed space to heal.

Could it be that we find ways to mother how we can. Maybe motherhood doesn’t always look like you expect it to.

It takes a village to raise a child.  Are there some members of the village whose job it is to help the babies that are already here – the children who need some extra mothering and the other mothers struggling to go it alone.

Until my time, if it ever comes, I have chosen a career in child health and development. I’m always crazily bonded to my friends’ children. I travel to faraway lands to better understand orphanage corruption. I get overly concerned about the welfare of those close to me. So much so, I sometimes lose sleep thinking about their happiness…

So maybe my psychic real estate agent buddy was right. Whether I decide to have a child or not is irrelevant. I will still always be a mother.

Much love XX

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Hi, I’m Katie. I am a kiwi neuroscientist with a love for consuming and creating content. This site is where I share my personal thoughts and the thoughts of incredible minds from around the world. PhD in Neuroscience, University of Otago.

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