Sunday, June 23, 2013

Encountering Mother-Love in Childlessness

I've been rolling this thought around in my brain for a while, savoring it and saving it until that someday when I would have enough experience to be allowed to talk about it. Because right now, I’m not qualified.

Mommy-love. That insane, overpowering love that all women supposedly feel when they first hold or behold their tiny new infant. That tigress, mama-bear, would kill with my own two hands to protect this thing, love. It’s a love that only moms feel. That only moms talk about. That only moms are allowed to understand.

Being infertile means you get left out of a lot of things. You can’t talk about being sleep deprived because you have no idea what that even means until you have a child. You can’t talk about messy houses, or difficult car trips, or any one of a million things without encountering this kind of mom-superiority. God forbid if a few moms get together and begin discussing babies, children, etc. You certainly can’t understand the love. And as an infertile woman, you’re stuck in this place where you are absolutely dying to be allowed to join in, but it also rips your heart out to overhear it. You begin to hate people who talk diapers and wipes and nursery decorations and pregnancy symptoms. You begin to silently despise women who complain about anything to do with their children. Because how dare they? How dare they not savor every single solitary moment with their precious little one. Especially because they have the love. The sacred love that only moms have.

Why don’t they put it to better use?

Of course I’m being hyperbolic. Of course moms can’t possibly feel loving all the time. It’s about the actions, not the feeling. I came across this article written by a mom who had lost her daughter at five days old. She talked about the love and how it kept her going. How she didn't want it to just go away again, so she poured it out into her life. She began using that love to reach out to others and try to somehow make the world a better place because her daughter had been here. That article really struck a chord with me.

I've been so unable to explain to people why I do what I do. I get a lot of credit somehow because I am infertile and I work in a crisis pregnancy center. I meet with moms or pregnant women and try to help them through. People stare at me with some kind of confused awe when they ask me how I can stand to be there with all these moms and unwanted babies, many of whom choose to abort what I so desperately desire.

I used to kind of shrug my shoulders. I dunno, I’d say, but somehow I just don’t feel those feelings when I’m there. I attribute it to the Holy Spirit, which I know is where that strength comes from. And I feel uncomfortable with the awe and the pats on the back. Because it honestly isn't hard. And while I was reading that article, it struck me:

This is the love.

The love is why I do what I do. I’m not left out of anything. I have that love, that mother-love that I so sacredly esteemed and so jealously desired. I have it. It was in me all along, and I am doing the only thing I can do with it; I’m pouring it out on a hurting world. I’m taking that energy and love that I want to be pouring into my child and giving it to hurting women and broken families.

I’m starting to believe that we all have that love inside of us. It’s the love that Jesus talks about that lays down its life for a friend. The love that brought Him down to earth and led Him up onto the cross. The love He told us to have for each other. This is loving your neighbor.

This love isn't just for moms. Maybe I’m going to make a lot of moms mad by saying this, but they don’t have a corner on love. Humans have loved each other ferociously for centuries. Men have given their lives on the battlefield to protect their comrades. Strangers have run into burning buildings to rescue someone they’ll never know. Love, overwhelming, unafraid, feisty and complicated has been the motivator for acts of desperation and glory throughout our entire history. It’s the climax of every story, the truest need of the human heart. Maybe moms feel it in a different way, but they don’t own it. They can’t. Because the love belongs to everyone.

The love has always been here inside me. Inside you, too. Sometimes I have felt the love, and it was a frightening thing. It’s been stuck inside me, yearning to get out and pour out into a child, and it has turned bitter and horrendous and scary. It has been in me, trying to escape, and it has overwhelmed me with grief and loss and a strange, horrible sense of beautiful rage. I don’t know how else to explain it. The love is in me, and it must get out.  Do you feel it in you? Are you holding it in and allowing it to fester and change into something it’s not?

Let it out. You have love, beautiful love, inside you, and with it you can change the world.


  1. This breaks my heart in the way that love speaks and mends with its crystal clarity. Thank you so much for writing this.

  2. This is beautiful. You have me tearing up at my desk. I love you.

  3. Oh, sweetheart, you put it so beautifully. I think you're absolutely right, for what it's worth. You know I've had those same feelings about somehow not being "worthy" to join in conversations because I don't have children. I'm so glad you have an outlet for your mother-love, because of course you are filled with it.

    God is using you for an amazing good. *hugs*

  4. This is perfectly written. Absolutely, completely, perfectly written. Thank you, Dani.