I think there is a certain flavour of angst, belonging only to women who are childfree or childless that invites witnessing and compassion (‘childfree’ is the term often used for women who have made an empowered choice not to have children).
It doesn’t matter how empowered I feel in the sense of rightness of not having children and how many times I count my blessings, my body has still evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to procreate, and feels the pain and confusion of something lacking.
Sometimes this takes the form of a mild depression I can’t put my finger on, sometimes an acute slump for a day after another ‘unsuccessful’ ovulation. At some points in my past, my breasts have been so excruciatingly painful and this only subsided when I went inside, connected with their grief around never having fulfilled their proper function, and cried buckets of tears in release. And the pain disappeared.
I obviously don’t know what it is like for parents, but I imagine that a good chunk of your reason for existing – consciously or unconsciously – is orientated towards being there for your children. And it is strange navigating through life without this. It doesn’t matter how purpose-driven our work is, if our roots aren’t intertwined with others roots, if relationships aren’t making up a good chunk of our day, I believe life starts to feel brittle and hollow to many of us. And in a world with so little tribe and communion woven into the fabric of our current culture, it is not easy for the childfree or childless woman.
I know so many powerful, radiant, beautiful childfree women, I sometimes wonder whether it is part of the earth’s intelligence: to guide a large number of women into devoting their lives to service, becoming ‘earth mamas’ and sacrifice the experience of having biological children. (Not that biological mamas aren’t or can’t be in service to life – I’m just describing a particular phenomena that I see).
And I don’t want to speak for everyone, because some childfree women might not be suffering in any way, but to those of us who feel blessed in our lives, and yet still have days often coloured with a subtle or sometimes not-so-subtle sadness or confusion or anxiousness, whose bodies and souls might have different needs, who might not have their own biological family, but still need to feel close to other humans, to feel held and needed, especially those of us doing brave work in the world: I see you