To The Children I Never Had

The tears are big, ugly tiger tears. I thought they were nearly extinct and had been safely caged – but the emotion behind them became too strong to hold back.

It was the perfect storm. Before I could see it or even feel it, the anger and distress crept up within me.

The layers of socially acceptable facades began to crack, one under another…quietly caving into the emptiness of my wounded soul.

There were crevices that seemed to have been filled with emotional caulking – but maybe the years of emotional and spiritual work/growth were merely a plug in the dam that was about to burst.

And Mother’s Day is just enough to trigger the motherless-ness of this life. The depths of this emptiness vary but I’ve learned I am living on a fault line and the emotional tectonic plates can slowly shift without me heeding any of the warning signs.

Although I am a step-mom, I know with more conviction than I’d like, that being a step-mom is not being a full-time mom – either biological or adoptive. My experience on this journey is one of internal conflict with paths of love and anger, respect and apathy, hope and hurt.

There are days I feel cheated, frustrated and just flat out angry. Then there are days of relief, gratitude and joy of my availability to others.

Writing has helped my awareness of the warning signs before an emotional earthquake. Reading what others have written through their journeys has given me hope that I’m not alone on this deserted island of childless/co-parenting/split-custody step-moms.

Several months ago, I sat down in a quiet restaurant to grab some lunch between errands. I was cruising through FaceBook posts and came across a shared post with a title something along the lines of “Things I Want to Teach My Daughter.”

As I read it, the pain and sadness leaked out of my eyes and the words of my own letter flowed.

I’m not sharing this for pity. I’m sharing this for my fellow childless women to let them know they are not walking this path alone. I’m sharing it with a hope of shared respect and appreciation for all types of mothering.

I am honored to mother so many children, teenagers, women, men, and couples walking with them on their journeys. This is my silver-lining in the pain.

To the Children I Never Had

I’m not sure why you never happened.  I don’t know if it was your blessing or mine.

There were years you were wanted.

Fiercely and desperately.

You were not mine to be had and I was not yours to raise. (Yes. I said that. You would have eventually been raising me.)

I don’t know why. I can guess & hypothesize. I make up great stories about the whys.

I try to make sense of it sometimes. And, I uncomfortably admit, that I celebrate it other times.

I have moments of deep heartache when I think of who you could have been…of what I could have taught you…and of what you may have taught me.

There is guilt that I didn’t MAKE it happen…I was told it was possible – modern medicine could have assisted in your being. And that would’ve meant some sacrifices on my part…

This is where the guilt comes in. That’s selfish. That’s the voice that haunts me. Had I been willing to sacrifice – had I not been selfish – you may be here.

And maybe you weren’t even meant to be from my womb. I could’ve found you. I started to look for you a couple of times, but I’d heard and witnessed the heartache of adoption. I have also seen and felt the joy of adoption, which encourages the self-indulgent and egocentric voice to swaddle me in shame.

I have to make peace that we are where we are meant to be. I have to believe that being a woman without children does not discredit my being. I have to accept that you & me, kiddo, just wasn’t our destiny. 

© 2016 Rebecca G. Townsend, LLC

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(2) comments

Camille Horton May 17, 2016

Thank you so much for sharing of yourself. I most definitely felt touched and moved by this peice. You are to be commended for your bravery. Thank you, and this will be shared with women friends of mine that are childless. Again Thank you.

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