I haven't chosen between a nipple or a bottle — but I have mothered my world.
Every day I'm putting out fires. Giving advice on love and relationships. Helping to ease hurt feelings. Relaying my love, hope, and support. Giving kisses and hugs. Laying out those bald, painful truths because sometimes they need to be said, even if it pains me.
I dole it all out and give as much of myself as I can — to the point where I don't have anything left to give. It satisfies something inside of me. A need. That part of me that wants to nurture. To mother.
My body has never housed a baby. I haven't chosen between a bottle or a breast. I haven't signed adoption papers. I don't even have furry babies running around my house, though I'm trying to convince myself that a kitten would be purrrfect.
However, I do mother people in my life, because I instinctively do so.
I agree with actress Kim Cattrall when she says, "I am not a biological parent, but I am a parent ... I think the thing that I find questionable about being childless or childfree [is] are you really? I mean, there is a way to become a mother in this day and age that doesn't include your name on the child's birth certificate. You can express that maternal side of you, very clearly, very strongly. It feels very satisfying."
I satisfy my mothering instinct without having given birth to a child. I'm not sure if I'll ever have a child. I'm still in the years where it's a possibility, but right now it's not an option.
Presumptions are made because I'm a 36-year-old woman with no children. Or the assumption that since my old ass hasn't had a child yet, then I definitely hate kids. If I liked them, I'd have at least one, right? Or that I haven't found the "right man" to breed with. Or that I'll have a house full of cats to direct my love to.
Yet I don't hate every baby announcement that I see on Facebook or suppress tears because I see someone nursing her newborn.
I have an instinct to mother and I indulge in it. I don't hold back. Why should I? I offer guidance, love, and support to everyone who comes to me needing it.
Whether it's the writer in a group who's been torn down by a bad review or my best friend's daughter talking about a boy in the middle of the night or my nephew wondering why his dad still smoking cigarettes or my Mom talking to me about her fears of her mortality. (Yes, sometimes mothers need mothering, too.)
I remember I was at a grocery store, probably grabbing wine. I have a face that make people more open to telling me their problems. I think they can see that I actually care. A lady walked up to me and smiled. I smiled back. I asked, "How are you?"
She released a flood gate. Her husband was in the military; she didn't say what branch, and I didn't ask. She was rubbing her hand on her tummy and told me she'd be having the baby while he was over there and that she was afraid that he'd never meet his son.
I gave her a hug. It didn't feel awkward or weird. I just felt sad that someone so young had to go through this alone. I let her cry on my shoulder for a minute. She apologized and rushed off.
It's these times that remind me that, no, I've never grown a child, I haven't chosen between a nipple or a bottle — but I have mothered my world.
And I regret nothing.