I sit here on Mother’s Day, trying to decide what I’d like to write this month’s column and it hit me. Society tends to assume that all married women are mothers, that all women desire to have babies or that all women are able to have babies and have just “selfishly” chosen not to have a baby.
I’ve written many a column on infertility and the physical, mental and emotional toll that it can take on a woman. I’ve read many an article, blog post and social media post, and have seen many videos with the same themes. Many conversations have been had with myself and family members and friends about how some people can conceive by looking at their spouses but others have to spend thousands of dollars to even have a chance at bringing a child of their own into this world. Yes, adoption is always an option — but rarely an inexpensive one.
Right now, this nation is divided by the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade. I have mixed emotions about the entire abortion debate. Do I like being told what I can and can’t do? Heck no! But does that make me pro-choice? Not necessarily. Do I believe that once a fetus is viable, it is a life? To some extent. Do I think that women should be able to choose between saving their lives versus the life of an unborn child? You bet. I see all these debates on all forms of social media and I hear them directly from people’s mouths.
We hear women saying that men shouldn’t get to decide what we do with our bodies. And I damn well agree.
But one thing that occurred to me sitting here in reflection today is that we often don’t take the feelings of men into account. HEAR ME OUT BEFORE YOU STOP READING — IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK.
I’m writing this article on Mother’s Day for a probable publication of around Father’s Day — so it popped into my head.
We often hear or see things about all the mothers out there — the single moms, the wanna-be moms, the moms with empty arms, the fur mamas, the bonus mamas, etc. But I can honestly say I’ve never seen a social media post addressing the dads whose arms are empty, too.
Another childless friend and I randomly saw each other in town yesterday and decided to have a quick coffee date (at Cool Beanz — who I write an article about for this issue!) and head over to Hobby Lobby. Several people at Hobby Lobby wished us a Happy Mother’s Day.
I’ve never really cared about the Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays debate — if I say Happy Holidays — then your holiday to be happy could be the invention of the spaceship for all I care — I’m expressing well wishes to you for whatever holiday you want to apply them to. If I say Merry Christmas, then just take it and roll with it and apply it to National Goat Sacrifice Day if that’s what makes you happy. Those are generic enough to me that they shouldn’t be an issue.
But when you wish someone who doesn’t have a child with them a Happy Mother’s Day — you don’t know what kind of havoc you might cause that woman. She may be infertile and unable to have children — holding her day together by a string. She may have just gone to the doctor the day before and been told there was no heartbeat — so what should be a happy occasion for her could be the most devastating weekend of her life.
And Heaven forbid a woman make the decision that they may not want children — rather that decision be the result of years of failed conception or just because she doesn’t want children. It’s NOT YOUR BUSINESS.
I’ve never once heard a man be asked why they didn’t want children. I’ve not once been with my husband in the month of June and heard him wished a Happy Father’s Day. To repeat, I’ve not seen a social media post acknowledging a dad who has lost a child, is raising a child as a single parent, raising someone else’s child as their own or is unable to have a child because of fertility issues.
Don’t twist my words around — women kick major ass — as mothers, as employees, as leaders, business owners, volunteers, or whatever role they put their minds to. But men can kick just as much ass in those same roles. Some men fill the role of mother and father to their children because Mom walked out on them, or worse, their children’s mother passed away. But you don’t see that talked about in mainstream media (or if you do, I’ve been under a rock for too long).
People don’t want to take away a woman’s right to choose what is right for HER — but what about what is right for the father of the child? What if they would like to raise the baby on their own? Yes, it’s the mother’s body that would carry the baby for nine months and I see that argument and understand. It’s a commitment.
Men have the option to walk away. There might be whispers behind their back but very rarely do they reach the same extent of the trash-talking that occurs when a woman decides to walk away from her children.
Some women get pregnant and then don’t give the father of the child the opportunity to be involved in the child’s life at all — and the child feels like a piece of them is missing. The father continues their life none the wiser.
While Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for people like myself who have been unable to conceive for years, it’s not lost on me that my husband’s arms are also empty. He may not have the same level of desire to have a baby as I do…but that doesn’t make his heart ache any less for our home to have the sound of tiny feet running down the hall.
We acknowledge the mothers who’ve lost babies through miscarriage, but not the partners who have to remain steadfast and strong for their wives while sometimes pushing their own grief and emotions deep under the surface. We talk about the women who’ve lost children in childbirth and say things like “I don’t know how she does it. I’d be a mess if that happened to me.” And oftentimes, it’s like the dad is invisible — like he didn’t love that unborn child just as much as its mother did, like he didn’t have to go home from the hospital with her and go back home to a fully furnished nursery with no baby to go in it.
Regardless of where you stand on a lot of issues, I think we should all be able to agree that women’s reproductive rights are being threatened but that we also aren’t paying enough attention to the men who may be battling the same issues that women are.
So I’m saying it for all of those men out there: the fur dads, the wannabe dads, the dads with empty arms, the single dads, the bonus dads, the dads who didn’t get a choice if they wanted to be a dad, the grieving dads and all the other different types of dads out there — Happy Father’s Day.