Day 138. Maternal Instincts

I’ve never had children.  My choice.  It’s not that I don’t like them.  I do.  I love them.  I just never wanted any of my own.  I like nothing more than spending time withmaternal my friends’, colleagues’ and family’s kids and grand kids.  I’m a great ‘aunt’.

And then I’m happy to go home to the relative peace and quiet of my life.  And my house.  And in case you’re wondering, I’ve never regretted it.  Not for a minute.  Not even when I am holding the most beautiful, wonderful, warm, cuddly, sweet-smelling baby in my arms.  Which I love doing, incidentally.

Hey there, hang on a minute.  Don’t go rushing off, analyzing me.  I had two of the greatest parents anyone could have.  They loved me.  Took care of me.  Nurtured me.  Spent time with me.  Taught me.  Guided me.  Advised me.  Helped me.  Protected me.  Talked openly to me, about anything and everything.  Set great examples for me.  And, when it was time, they set me free, as difficult as it was for them.  Free to become my own person.  Free to create my own life.  Free to make my own mistakes.  Free to make my own choices.  Free to become ‘me’.  Not their idea of me.

So “no”, there was NOTHING in my childhood that would account for my not wanting babies of my own.  I had an idyllic upbringing.  My mom and dad made it look so simple, if anything, I should have wanted dozens.

Sometimes, because I have to know what makes people tick, myself included, I’ve self-analyzed:  Is it because I’m an only child, and never had to ‘mother’ a younger sibling?  I don’t think so.  I know lots of only children who want kids.  Often, to make up for their lonely childhoods.  Is it because I’ve always been career-oriented?  Not to say I’m ‘type A’ or insanely ambitious, or driven or anything.  I’ve just always known how I wanted to earn my living.  I love what I do.  I work hard at it.  I devote myself to it.  And I do it well.  All of which takes a lot of time and some sacrifices.

Were children one of my sacrifices?  Has my career stopped me?  I suppose it might have contributed.  Really, though, I don’t know.  Because the ‘decision’ of whether or not to have children has just never come up.  It’s never ‘surfaced’ in my consciousness.

When I first started thinking about this story, I realized there’ve been no men I’ve wanted to have children with, either.  Yes, I’ve been in love.  Mad, passionate, earth-shattering, heart-melting, goose bump-giving, appetite-destroying, mind-blowing, mood-altering, life-changing, all-consuming, full-on-crazy love.  Having said that, I never looked at him and thought, “I can’t wait to have your babies.”  He was my friend, my lover, my confidante, my soul mate.  Yet even he never brought out a desire to have children.  Even he never brought out any maternal instincts in me.

Or so I thought.

Because, suddenly, it dawned on me.  He had brought out my mothering instincts.  But they were directed back at him.  I tried to shield him from pain.  When he was hurt, or disappointed, or upset, or frightened, or sad all I wanted to do was comfort him.  I felt everything he was feeling.  When he needed anything, I moved heaven and earth to make sure he got it.  I would have done anything I could, to help him make his dreams come true.  I did for him, what my parents had done for me.

Same with my friends.  What I feel for them is deeper than friendship.  What I do for them is more than ‘friendly’.  It is maternal.  I have that same feeling towards animals.  All animals, wild and tamed.  It’s probably the reason why I so desperately want to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary.  Why I can’t bear to think they’re slaughtered for their ivory tusks.  Why I can’t pass by a dog without giving it a cuddle.  Why I can’t look at Humane Society commercials and brochures.  Why I’d adopt every unwanted cat in the world, if my friends would stop threatening to have me committed.

Being a creative director also brought it out in me.  One of the ‘jobs’ a creative director has, is to find talent, nurture it and create an environment where it can thrive and grow.  To ‘shield’ it from those who would destroy it (a tad over-dramatic, but you know what I mean).  To protect it, like a mother protects her child.  And this was a part of my job I loved the most.  Whether I was working with ‘babies’ just beginning their careers, or more mature talent, it was all the same to me.

My greatest pleasure was bringing out the best in them.  To help them, not just reach their potential, but to exceed it.   To watch, jubilantly and proudly, each time they received the recognition, and awards, they so richly deserved.  And to cheer them on and wish them well, when it was time for them to ‘leave the nest’.

“Yes”, I have maternal instincts.  I have dozens and dozens and dozens of ‘children’.  I just never had to change their diapers or send them to university.  There have been some sleepless nights, though.

38 thoughts on “Day 138. Maternal Instincts

  1. Freud would have a field day!

    I never had kids but I’m great with them. I’ve always taken the Zen route and accepted it as it is really, as “not meant to be”. Many people who have children have zero instinct. 🙂

    • Yeah, wouldn’t he, though? :).

      I agree with you. And tons of people who have them, shouldn’t have. I think they only had them either brcause they think it was’expected’ or because everyone else had them. But they’re lousy parents. No instincts, no patience, no anything. I’d rather be me.

  2. …and you SHOULD be you. Having children is, or ought to be, a personal choice. Luckily for this generation there are more and more people opting for this life style and it is perfectly acceptable. Good for you for knowing your own mind and having the courage to live it as you see fit, not for satisfying other people’s ideas of heaven.

  3. We were all put here for a purpose Fransi, you serve yours to educate so others will prosper, while others serve up – well gobbeltygook of which more will be served later.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Fransi. My wife and I don’t have (and don’t plan on having) children, and there’s so much in our culture that makes us feel, in ways large and small, that we’re somehow out of step with society because of our decision. It’s always pleasant and reassuring to hear from people who have made the same decision.

  5. I agree, you don’t have to have your own genetic children to be maternal. I’m nowhere close to ready to have children of my own, and yet I always look out for children who I don’t even know. Just yesterday, this man walked into a store and was ordering while his son who looked barely two years old started wandering around out of his sight! I just kept my eye on the baby while being annoyed that the father just let him walk off like that. I would have just picked up the baby so he would stop wandering off so far, but you know how parents can be when it comes to their own children… they don’t want to be criticized for anything, and some don’t want anyone’s help. -_-

    I want children of my own someday, but I understand if people don’t want to have their own children. Having a child is a time commitment, which I also think some fathers are guilty of realizing when they blame the mothers for too much (or vice versa if the father stays at home). I think that it’s okay to say that you don’t have/want the time to take care of children on top of everything else you do/enjoy. There’s so much that can be experienced outside of children. In fact, I wish more people admitted this before they had children and decided later that they wanted more time for themselves.

    • I agree. Children don’t ask to be born. Nor do they get a chance to pick their parents. So my hope, always, is that those who want to have children do so for all the right reasons. Not because all their friends are. And I hope they’re willing to make the sacrifices and the trials and tribulations that come part and parcel with parenthood. Kids are not like a sweater you can return to the store when you change your mind.

  6. An interesting topic, I think learning or knowing what we have to contribute in this world is most important and if children come our way, then nature adds a helping hand by infusing us with hormones for a period of time in order to ensure we have sufficient of that maternal instinct to take care of our young (not sufficient in every case perhaps) but equally interesting is how that hormone dissipates around menopause and even the most nurturing, selfless mother, starts thinking (as she should) a little more about her own needs, it being necessary to push the chicks out of the nest, so to speak.

    • What an interesting observation; and a great way of looking at it. What has been a real eye opener for me is discovering that one can use ‘that hormone’ in many different ways. It’s not valid only when used on mothering your own biological or adopted offspring. And it doesn’t mean I can’t feel a mother’s pain or joy. When I read your posts about your experiences when you gave birth to your daughter, I instinctively ‘felt’ your fear, your pain, your ‘frustration’. All of it. And when one of my ‘young uns’ grows up to be a takented writer or designer, I feel as proud of them as I know my parents were of me. And that’s enough for me. It satisfies my need to nuture. There was a time I wondered if I was too selfish to have children. But now I know it’s selfish when the wrong people have them, for the wrong reasons.

      • I am sure you would have made a wonderful mother to your own children Fransi, had that path opened to you, I openly accepted that it was ok for me not to have children in my thirties, I had children in my life that visited me often, many of them children from single parent families and deprived backgrounds and not only were they a real joy, they discovered a different world with me, a special adult friend or relative often provides something to children that a parent can not.

        It’s not selfish, it’s putting everything into the life you have been gifted with and if that involves the betterment of others, it is surely as it should be.

        I have held on to much of my life that existed pre-children, and although this might perhaps be labelled as selfish, it is almost necessary in today’s world and I also believe it is a sensible role model for children, knowing what your life work and passions in life are – something especially important for women who can lose their way after children move on.

        We need all of us contributing to the lives of young people today, you and me both! 🙂

      • Thanks. You bring up so many important and valid points. The relationship I have with the children (even adult children) od friends and family is so different from their relationships with their parents. They get to express thenselves differently with me and they get exposed to different things and different points of view. I had that growing up and I loved every minute of it. I know they feel the same. It’s great for all of us. And you are so right. In these times, in this world, the more people who care about others the better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Great writing , Fransi! It’s the same with my kids, I will set them free to be themselves, regardless of what I may hope for, its their lives to live and i’ll be proud of them regardless of my hopes and dreams for them, which will only be for them to be happy and live life to the fullest, find their ambitions and pursue them, and to hopefully leave a positive impact on everyone they meet, and I think you are doing that as well! 😉

    • Thank you so much! It’s difficult to set those we love free, but if we love them, that’s what we have to do. And then you will have the joy of watching them fulfill their destiny, in their own way and on their own terms. I stayed close to my parents until the day they died. Freedom doesn’t mean you disappear.

  8. Honestly, I’m so glad you wrote this. I feel the same exact way. I still don’t know if I want kids or not. I haven’t made that decision yet. I feel I still have time to think about it and I relish in the fact that I have the freedom to do so.

    If I have kids, I would want it to be because I felt that connection and need with my future husband, not because I felt obligated to by society. For the longest time, I always thought I’d have kids because honestly, that’s what I was led to believe NEEDED to happen for me to be a normal part of society. I realize now that there is no need, it’s simply a choice. I know I give back to a lot of people and also mother them at likes like you described so wonderfully so I would still get the chance to be as nurturing as I’d like.

    This post really struck a chord with me. Thank you 🙂

    • Thank you! Having children is far too important to make the decision lightly. I think you are right to take your time. Conforming to what ‘society’ thinks is right is, in my opinion, a lousy reason to become a parent. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am glad this post resonated with you.

  9. I admire people who make a conscious decision not to have children. I think so many people fall into pro-creating without really stopping to think that it isn’t a pre-requisite to life. Obviously I have quite a brood myself because I was an only child for many years (my brothers are quite younger than I) and it was exactly as you said – making up for my own lonely childhood.

    • I think sometimes we ‘romanticize’ the idea of having children. But once we have them and the responsibility and the hard work sets in (for life) we have no patience for it. I have seen that happen. It is selfish and unfair. Having such wonderful parents made me aware of exactly what it takes.

  10. Clearly, you have very strong maternal instincts. It seems to me that you were wise beyond your years. You knew what you wanted and went for it. In doing so, you really did have it all. You were successful in your career and your personal relationships because they were honest. You were able to express your maternal instincts in so many different ways! Most importantly, you followed your instincts! I don’t know how many of us can say that. You are the manifestation of the old adage, “To thine own self be true” .

    • Thanks so much. And you’ve ‘nailed’ me. I have spent my life trying to be true to myself. It is, after all, our God-given right. And thank God I was blessed with parents who knew that; and encouraged me and inspired me to do precisely that from a very, very early age. I am SO lucky!! Thanks so much for reading my blog and always taking the time to comment. I really enjoy our ‘conversations’.

      • I feel the same way, Fransi. It is a genuine pleasure. Your blog so eloquently and precisely paints the multi-faceted uniqueness of you. I am always inspired.

      • Thank you so much. I believe we’re all “multi-faceted and unique”. I just spill my guts a lot :). I am inspired every day here, on WordPress. There are so many bright, insightful, interesting, wise, funny, talented people here — including you, by the way. And what means the most is all the encouragement we all give each other. We have a hell of a cheering section!

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