Proof of Existence
Motherhood: The ultimate contribution to the universe.
Mothers are creators and nurturers, rightfully referred to as “wonder women,” fulfilling an esteemed role.
But what of the woman who is either unable to deliver life — or who chooses a child-free existence?
What becomes of this tragic lady who will never know the unconditional love of a child reliant upon her for — everything? And what about those adorable intangibles: comparing dimples and eye shape, stubbornness and wit. Did the little one inherit that trait from her grandma or her auntie?
In failing to experience the true essence of what it means to be female, is she destined to be an outcast who lacked the foresight to fret over who would care for her in old age? Having missed her opportunity to be part of the “social norm,” how will this fruitless soul leave her mark?
Fortunately, she has nothing holding her back from lofty dreams. And, if this unencumbered road makes the stalls and failures more biting, it matters not. She’s privy to oodles of free time with the luxury of beginning anew again and again…
But can ensuing accomplishments ever equate?
Because in the end
Whether a consequence of fate or choice
A haunting question lingers:
Can one be considered a successful human being without leaving genetic proof that she existed at all?
Poignant question that I have asked myself in different ways. I too feel the pull of genetics, parenthood and no family left behind, and yet hope that my life may leave footprints in the sand of time and other lives. And I don’t think it’s just a woman’s issue.
Let me know when you figure it out!
I so value and appreciate your insight…I certainly didn’t intend to dismiss males from the equation! 😉 However, I don’t believe there is a universal answer to my question. Each individual will determine his or her own definition of “success” and, hopefully, forge a pathway that leads to fruition…
Interesting question you ask! One of my closest friends has been unable to have children. She is enjoying her career and is an awesome auntie to my three children. I believe she is more valuable in her contribution to the next generation than some biological parents are…
Blessings ~ Wendy
What an interesting perspective you offer! And so lovely that you appreciate your dear friend. I agree, there are many fabulous “aunts” and other wonderful mentors out there who have zero biological connection, yet love, support, and nurture in incredible ways…Hugs and blessings to you as well, Wendy.
Of course they can. Often I think some would be better off if they felt it was okay not have kids. Motherhood was in my bones from birth. I have know some women that are happy in life without them.
I do know sometimes those same women have to deal with a lifetime of questions about it.
Thanks for taking your valuable time to comment. Although modern medicine has provided women with “choices” their mothers/grandmothers never had, I think most women don’t want to feel like they’re missing out on such a celebrated life experience. But it’s human nature to question decisions either way — even if these thoughts are never verbalized…
Not being a mother allows you to have time to write beautiful pieces and be inspired by your travels. And don’t worry, your genetics show in your nieces!! 🙂
This brings up a few points for me . . .A successful human being, in my humble opinion, is not necessarily one who procreates, but one who makes a conscious effort to help transform this world with their thoughts and deeds unencumbered by the thought of the legacy they may be leaving behind. Most ‘heroes’ become heroes without setting out to do so. Giving birth and Motherhood are so entirely different these days so it’s very hard, at least for me, to think that any woman who either cannot or chooses not to have a child is somehow less than a woman who has. Another thought is with the rapid growth of the world’s population on target to outpace world resources, who then leaves a greater legacy. . . the one who produces an heir or the one who does not. It’s a silly wish, I know, but I do hope one day we could all look past gender, race, age and everything else that simply creates a division among us to recognize we are all worthy. Thanks for this insightful post. It really made me stop and think. 🙂
I’m not certain I can properly express my gratitude for your astute observations. The “human condition” is indeed an intoxicating lure. It is my most sincere hope that those who embark upon the procreation/parenting role do so for all the right reasons — AND stick around long enough to see it through…. There are far too many unwanted/unloved children in this world. 😦
Thank you for your sharing your beautiful perspective! xo
I enjoyed the sarcastic humor, and defiance of social/cultural messages telling a woman her worth is in her ability to bear children..as flippant & free spirited as this essay is, the end really grabbed me. It challenges the reader to wrestle with what gives their life meaning, and to either chase that..or risk losing the unique mark you make on the world. I really enjoyed this. Great job 🙂
Thank you for your kind remarks. I am honored to inspire/challenge one to deeper thought! xo
Thank you for an interesting and delightful post. The question you pose is one many people return to time and again. I think the definition of “success” is a subjective one and so there will be as many answers as there are individuals. And then again, there is no guarantee to providing “genetic proof” – even if you wanted to: for many children die per year and there are many women (and their supportive partners) who experience multiple stillbirths or are biologically unable to procreate.
I think that what we have to consider is HOW we parent when the opportunity arises; whether through friends or family or in our work life. It is about taking the opportunity to parent seriously; and doing everything we can to ensure that when the occasion arises, we do our best to be good parents and provide the children we care for/influence with the experience of being positively cared for and parented.
From this perspective, our successes are then defined by the QUALITY of the human beings we leave behind as our legacy.
Dearest Might War,
Thank you for your kindness…What a beautiful perspective YOU offer! Having taken a quick peek at your background, 😉 I can only say I’m in utter awe of your selfless career path!!! WOW, wow, wow — I salute you with all my heart. Hugs and blessings to you.
Yes, we can absolutely be successful. It all depends on how you define success.
I could not agree with you more! And adopting children is an amazing definition of success!! Thank you for having such a lovely heart…xo
As a childfree woman who is seeking a sterilization and wishes to remain childfree for life, I feel contributions are not made so much by genetics, but by how you touch the people in your life. Loving people, volunteering, and trying to make the world a better place. Also, not wanting children of my own doesn’t mean I don’t love to spoil the children in my life through friends and family. I love spoiling them rotten!
I salute a woman who knows precisely what she wants! Indeed, taking the time to love the precious lives already here is an all-too-often overlooked contribution. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for possessing such a generous heart!!
A woman is the Hiram- key to civilization. Even if we find the many women who incapable of reproducing, she still has embedded in her, the strength, and will of greatest nurturer. Women are equal in all respects, for it is only the man, and woman’s approach to life that distinguish them. Behind every great man, is a greater woman. Women are not only instrumentally valued, but most definitely hold the highest intrinsic value. Great post, and thoughts.
I feel compelled to add something else to your interesting article. An individuals mark in history is not defined by his/her biological genetic pool, rather it is defined by the humans he/she has touched, influenced, and helped to progress as humans themselves. Our value and potential for success is determined by our will to equalize each other, and survive together, so that other’s after, may prosper as well.
WOW! What a privilege to have my material read by such a WISE SOUL!! Thank YOU so very much for your highly enlightened perspective. Whoever is fortunate enough to be a part of your world is blessed beyond measure…
Definitely an interesting question. I think people can make an impact and be important in life without having their own biological offspring. As some commenters said above, being great aunts/uncles, etc. leaves a lasting impression. They could do some great work (be it humanitarian or corporate or whatever). There are lots of ways to leave a mark. Or even the best one, which you would have close knowledge of, adopting. My dad and uncle were adopted, and they had a wonderful life, and my grandparents had a wonderful, fulfilling life even though they weren’t the biological parents. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your wise insight. I agree that biology need not be a part of the equation. There are so many people contributing to the betterment of society in untold ways. Great parenting is but one avenue… 🙂
Hi Luggagelady. True not everybody wants, can have or needs a child. A Lot of men no doubt have the same attitude . For myself I have four children and thirteen grandchildren. Plus two ex-wives. That I’m pleased about! Thank you for liking my poem ‘ A Stunned Hush’. I had to write some words about this terrible tragedy! The Foureyed Poet.
The answer to that is absolutely yes. My kids are the best thing I ever gave to the world, and my own personal comfort and joy. But a person’s worth has nothing to do with the number of kids one cranks out, nor can she really take credit for her children’s accomplishments. And look at the inspiration and wisdom and contributions and lasting impact that Helen Keller made upon the world!
Incisive, honest, poignant, thought-provoking post–as evidenced by so many heartfelt and articulate responses. Thank you. Xo