Being a woman is more than being a mother


POSTED: Thursday, April 02, 2009

Do you have kids? That's the question that always seems to define people—women, really. I am asked that all the time, even by those whom I've just met. It's not what I do for a living, or even if I'm married, but rather that all-invasive question of whether I've fulfilled my womanly duty of contributing a little one to society.

Am I not woman enough to have a great job, for volunteering my time and paying my own way through life? Apparently it's not enough for others that I am content, for now, being a single woman.

Everyone has reasons and seasons for having or not having children. I used to be shocked when people asked me my reproductive status. It's a highly personal question, one that holds a lot of baggage for some.

I recently learned that one of my friends was biologically incapable of having children. How awful to know that you could not make that decision for yourself. Someone else I know told me he and his wife prefer not to have children—ever. What a powerful decision from a committed couple. I am grateful that I am capable of having children, so far as I know, and that if I choose not to I would not be the first woman to have done so.

Perhaps I will find Mr. Perfect some day. Perhaps we'll find the perfect relationship. Then, and only then, will I consider entering the oh-so-hallowed ground of motherhood.

I don't see the role of mother as novel, and I don't take the associated tasks lightly. Committing yourself to raising children to be good citizens of the world is a monumental goal. Instilling good values and respect for others is an astounding task. To see one's children manifest the things you've taught them must feel awesome.

Mother, no, not yet, but I am an aunt many times over. My brother's kids are my babies. Co-workers have pictures of their children on their desks and pictures of their husbands or boyfriends on their computers. I have my niece and nephew. So, although I have made the deliberate decision not to have children right now, I am still blessed to have these two miracles in my life.

Maybe one day I will become a mother. Maybe. But, if I don't, I will in no way feel unfulfilled or even sad. I will not feel like any less of a woman. I am an auntie, a fun one if I can be so humble.

I have the privilege of seeing my niece and nephew grow up. I am so unbelievably happy to hear their voices and to play their games. I think I have contributed something to their lives. I have nurtured life other than mine, and, although not in a mother's capacity, I still have given a large piece of myself to two important people.

So, ask me that question again and I will tell you no. No, I do not have children, but I do have my babies.


Nicole Napuunoa works in the administrative department at the Transportation Security Administration and is pursuing degrees in political science and philosophy. ”;The Goddess Speaks”; is a feature by and about women. Essays of about 500 words may be sent to “;The Goddess Speaks,”; 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).