Last year during National Infertility Awareness Week (#NIAW), I posted 5 Things I Want You to Know. This year, I'm revisiting those five things and also giving a bit of an update. I would love to hear from you, so make sure you blog back to me!
Whether explicitly spelled out or just implied, much of our society still attributes womanhood and motherhood to being pregnant and/or giving birth to a child. I have a huge problem with this. If there's anything that you take away from this blog, I hope that it's this: There are many, many women who play the role of a mother who did not give birth to a child.
From foster and adoptive moms to single women pouring into those younger than them, these women, who didn't necessarily give birth, are standing in as parents in a whole host of circumstances for a wide array of reasons. To say or imply anything other than that is simply a narrow view of our world.
When I see or hear someone talk about how being pregnant is the most feminine or womanly part of their identity, or when when someone indicates that they way they birthed their child(ren) makes them a good mother, my heart literally breaks. What about me? What about all of the women like me who did not get to carry our child? Am I less of a woman or less feminine? Am I less of a mother? It sure doesn't feel like it, but from some of the words I read and hear and some of the implied conversations, is sure seems like some ladies would say so.
There are so many ways that we are given opportunities to lean into our womanhood and our God-given maternal tendencies. It's not by carrying a child. It's not by giving birth. Yes, those are wonderful and beautiful things, there is no doubt about that. But, can I encourage us all to widen our definitions and become more inclusive of those who have not had that opportunity, for whatever reason. Let's celebrate women who are loving and caring for kiddos in all capacities. Let's lean into unity as women, and not divide ourselves amongst each other.
For about five years, I had the privilege to work for several different nonprofits who serve children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. It was in these years that I saw some of the most amazing women and men stand in the gap for these children and become "parents" to them. There was no biology involved. Many times there were not even court orders. These were volunteers, mentors, teachers, house parents, counselors, foster parents, respite workers, Sunday school leaders, and more. They are my heroes, and they got to plant seeds in these children that I earnestly pray will someday be harvested.
Regardless of blood and the law, these people loved, cared for, and discipled these children. They helped them see their value in the Lord, delight in Him, and begin to heal the deep and unfathomable wounds. It was through this work that I became completely convinced that people become parents in so many different ways and womanhood and motherhood are in no way determined by how God chooses to place us in the life of a child.
Femininity has nothing to do with pregnancy, child birth, or anything of the sort. We are all created in the image of God and commanded to love, guide, and care for children who have been entrusted to us. It's important to not confuse these things, although admittedly it can be easy to do.
When a person is walking through infertility, adoption, foster care, child loss, or another difficult circumstance related to building their family, it's so vital that we focus on the fact that we were all knit together in our mother's wombs, and that God created each of us to be unique, just as He's given all of us unique stories and testimonies that ultimately bring glory to Him.