Here’s Why You Don’t Have To Be A Mother To Be A Loving Woman

Silent Sorority AwardFive years ago we made history. On September 28, 2010 Silent Sorority earned an award in the media capital of North America — New York City.

There I was amid an unusual mix of a few celebrities, fertility industry sales people, clinicians, health advocates and RESOLVE representatives. In my acceptance speech I managed to hush a room of 300+ people by declaring that there is more than one ending to the infertility story.

I recall my words took people by surprise.

The audience — and most of society — were accustomed to hearing only from those sharing stories of motherhood.

A new chapter started in that banquet room on E 59th Street in Manhattan. Right after my knees almost buckled walking onto the stage I felt a sense of calm sweep over me. It always does when I think about the inspiring women who made Silent Sorority possible — and those who continue to inspire me with their compassion, empathy, big hearts and generous spirits.

The conversations and ideas you share keep me writing. A prompt from Lori about a BBC Woman’s Hour interview with Kim Cattrall is what led me to write this piece, Here’s Why You Don’t Have to Be a Mother to Be A Loving Woman. I’m happy to report that it was published today on the latest digital media platform, Slant News.  Perhaps the most important sentence in the whole piece is this one:

SlantNewsWomen who are not mothers face the unique burden that parents don’t, namely, qualifying themselves as loving women.”

Let me know your thoughts. As always, I welcome your comments.

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6 thoughts on “Here’s Why You Don’t Have To Be A Mother To Be A Loving Woman

  1. “Silent Sorority” (the book) was and still is a landmark and so deserving of that RESOLVE award. Maybe things haven’t changed fast enough for childless/free women for our comfort, but they ARE slowly changing, and you have been a big part of that, Pamela!

    Loved your Slant article too (how can I resist a post that includes Kermit the Frog??). You definitely hit the nail on the head with that observation: if we’re not mothers, we need to “prove” that we are, in some way, a motherly, nurturing person. I look forward to the day (someday…!!) when women are seen as unique individuals, and not defined/judged/valued by the children in their lives — or the lack thereof.

  2. Great piece, Pamela! I’ve loved Kim Cattrall since Mannequin (1987) but her comments make me love her even more. I’m really glad she added fuel to a conversation that really needs to be at the forefront! I might never be a mother, but I am loving and caring and am happy to be a friend and mentor to many. It’s not a contest, but my roles have value too, that value just isn’t recognized by society.

  3. I teared up reading this to Grey. On the heels of the backlash about Kim Cattrell’s interview and the increasing push to continue to devalue women who don’t fit society’s definition of “mother,” it is good to get posts from you and Loribeth strongly reminding all the naysayers that being a woman, and a loving caring woman, involves more than simply giving birth.

    Congratulations on this anniversary. And will be advertising this article widely.

  4. Thank you Pam for writing this article and all that you write. Silent Sorority was a real savior for me in the early years when yours was one of the few voices out there talking about an alternate happy ending.

    I think this defense of being a loving woman can be ever harder if you’ve got a successful career. I think many people assume that I’ve chosen my career over being a mom, and I always feel the need to set the record straight. That yes, I would have LOVED to have had children but it wasn’t in the cards for us. That yes I LOVE my nieces and nephews and friends’ children. I hate that I still need I to get this across sometimes, but I think it is because of exactly what you described. Please keep the useful insights coming!

  5. Meant to tell you, I love this piece. I’ve been fighting the urge to justify myself in my non-parenthood, since I feel any effort expended on forced validation will hamper me in “following my bliss”. (As if bliss isn’t already hard enough to come by in the middle of grief….) For me, this urge does not come from concern over whether I’m worthy and caring, because I know I’m both, but more so as a reaction to those who glean their own worthiness and level of caring from their mom-hood. You know, those mothers who walk around with a presumption of their own goodness – it’s hard not to jump in the ring and “take them on”. But the greater point as I see it is that I shouldn’t have to.

  6. Not sure how I missed this post, but I am glad I found it. Five years ago I first found you (my very first comment was on the post you linked to), and began looking for Loribeth and Lisa and the rest of the Silent Sorority community. I started blogging a few months later. Your voice, and the voices of so many others now, continue to inspire me to keep blogging five years later. “You don’t have to be a mother to be a loving woman.” You’re so right. You live this.

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