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 with 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.