Moms and the childless in community?
All of us crave the fulfillment of whatever we assume is missing in our lives. Otherwise, life would be practically perfect. But the challenge for moms and the childless woman to be in community is pervasive. The childless who long for the title of mommy, with restless hearts. They feel they’re missing a piece of what society calls their identity, as life givers and cultivators. And the many mothers who lament a loss of freedom and strive to find meaning in the mundane.
She seeks my flat stomach and I long for her full arms.
Embrace the Connection
Whether weary with children or childless and tired of being labeled, there is an opportunity to embrace your season. And, to join a friend in her own. Perhaps the childless can remind weary moms of the gift of life they have contributed to the next generation. And the mothers can support and encourage the childless to link arms. To step in. To walk alongside and be a positive influence for their children.
Childless ladies with mom friends should consider that things will be different. New moms will have to consider naptimes and routine setting as critical factors in deciding when to schedule get-togethers.
But mothers with childless friends should also recognize that there will be seasons when the childless, who want children, might need to create boundaries so they can care for their own hearts. It might be painful for her to show up for certain events and milestones for your child. There may be times the childless need to make space for their hearts to find rest. There may also be times to sit in the longing and others to move forward with purpose. Even as moms need to adjust and give up control of perfectly under-control schedules.
The Default Question
Of mothers, the default question we ask is, “How are the kids?” But for both mothers and the childless, perhaps we could look each other in the eye and ask, “How are YOU?” and “What brings you joy?”
Life was meaningful before children and there will be life anew once you’re an empty nester.
And, here in this present season, there is life too.
What is it that gives you life?
Whether birthing your legacy by child-raising or leaving life’s fingerprint on your network of relationships, there is purpose. May we each be willing to lend a hand along the way. Whether she has forged ahead into the sacred space of motherhood or you move forward pursuing passions, take opportunities to encourage other women in your circles of influence. There is beauty whether you choose or the path is chosen for you.
How can we support authentic space for hearts and minds to be at rest? How can we be curators of that rest for ourselves and those we encounter?
The key is to engage. When we make it only about the season we’re in, it’s hard for others to walk with us. Invite her into your world. And ask her to step into yours. Recognize that our careers or our children should not be our sole identifier but instead add to our depth and beauty as women. It could be as simple as responding to a social media post about her kids. Or you seeing her celebrate your career or side hustle success.
A non-exhaustive, imperfect, yet implementable list of practical tips for bridge building to keep insecure comparison from taking over…
- Making space for adult conversation brings remembrance/recognition that being a woman is challenging (no matter how picture-perfect what she has and you’re lacking might seem).
- Ask her what her biggest pain point is in this season. Then respond creatively to be part of easing her burden. Asking and being willing to listen with open hands and heart is a most precious gift. The acts that follow simply reinforce your care.
- A working, childless woman could buy groceries for a homemaking mom and then share a meal at their dinner table. Ask what recipes she likes to make with/for the kids and then offer to step in. Or, buy kid-friendly kitchen tools that will engage her children in the process of getting a meal on the table. Of course, there’s always takeout if your momma friend needs a break from the kitchen!
- Show up with her favorite specialty coffee order during naptime and offer to help cross an item off your momma friend’s to-do list.
- A stay at home mom could support a working, childless woman/entrepreneur with the behind the scenes part of her business. Because the right opportunity could eventually produce income for both. Then, because of the efforts of both, move forward in tandem toward a common goal. Side hustles can bring great fulfillment. And, extra income is never a bad thing!
- A stay at home mom can ask how things are going at work or what the next adventure will be for the childless woman. Wanderlust-fulfilling ladies, don’t forget to bring home a fun souvenir to share!
- Ask for grace. Sometimes moms just aren’t up for a get-together or a childless woman just needs space to get away from the stereotypical family unit to embrace that life without children can be rich too.
There is grace in the hard spaces of bridge-building. And space to do your own thing. To embrace your own season without the need to apologize to her as you celebrate being in your own lane. The childless and mothers don’t always have to walk in tandem. There should be no guilt on either side whether kid-free or caught in a flurry of busy, children-centered events. MOPS and PTA meetings, mom and baby yoga workouts and playdates are great places for moms to get recharged to raise their children well. The childless can enjoy coffee with a friend, girls’ night out, reading a good book and sleeping in on weekends.
We may be fulfilled differently in our day to day commitments but we are all in search of connection. Stepping into each others’ worlds can bring a priceless perspective and welcome relief from routines. Linking arms can offer perspective into what the other side of the coin might look like. It is challenging to be in community. Believe in each other and that you are working daily to become better versions of who you were created to be.
Keep working to make these friendships work.
For further reading from the perspective of a mom my friend Amanda, who finds great value in keeping connections strong with childfree women, check out: 5 Ways to Nurture Friendships Between Mothers and Childfree Women
Thoughts on the legacy of the childless.
Check out my article on embracing your legacy as a woman without children: www.thewespot.com/celebrating-the-lives-and-legacy-of-childless-women