I saw this in the Guardian at the weekend. I really I hate it when people come out with stuff like this…
I don’t agree but I’ve vented about it in this space before, it doesn’t need saying again, so I let it go.
Then on Monday I saw this tweet and I changed my mind.
Please don’t tell me that I haven’t known love unless I have had children. You might even be right. But it’s a mean thing to say.
— Lo the Phoenix (@LoPhoenix) March 17, 2014
So I’m saying it again, at length….
Giving birth to a child and being a parent are two different things. Doing one is not a guarantee of being good at the other. Having a child does not give you the ability to know what love is better than anyone else.
I understand that giving birth is a powerful experience and that for most parents loving a child is overwhelming but I was totally blown away but how much I felt for Oli the first time I held him. He’s not my kid, but I am his aunt and I love him. Don’t you dare tell me that I don’t love him enough or unconditionally. You don’t know that.
You don’t know what my life is or has been. You don’t know who loves me and who I love. You don’t know whether that love is conditional or not.
I don’t have children but I am as tied to the people I love as you are to your children. I’ve cancelled work events to go and look after my nephew when his parents were ill and I’m their first choice babysitter. Oli has only just got out of his ‘I hate Aunty Nic’ phase and believe me there have been days where the last thing I wanted to do is spend time with a nephew that just cries and says ‘no’ all the time and clearly doesn’t like me let alone love me. However, I love my brother and my sister in law and my nephew so I suck it up and help them. I’ve been woken in the middle of the night and gone to babysit because my neighbour has gone into labour and there’s no-one to look after their eldest child. I’ve housed teenagers that didn’t want to go home and helped work out ceasefires between them and their parents. I’ve taken days off work to pick mum up from the hospital. I sat holding my Grandad’s hand and told him how much I loved him, how much we all loved him but that it was ok for him to go, as he died.
You know nothing about how much or how little I love or how I express it.
You also don’t know if I have infertility problems, if I never wanted children or if I tried desperately to have them, if I did have them but they died or I had a miscarriage. You know nothing about my circumstances except that I don’t have children.
Yet you presume to know how I love.
I know about unconditional love. I’ve been loved unconditionally and I love unconditionally.
I don’t know if the love I have for the people in my life is stronger/weaker/bigger/less/more than the love you have for your children. I wouldn’t presume to tell you that it’s better or less because I don’t really know you.
This is what I do know about you. You have a child or children and the experience of parenthood has taught you many things you feel you wouldn’t have learnt without it and you experienced something you never felt before. I know this because you keep telling me. You keep telling me that I will never understand true love, true sacrifice or anything truly meaningful because I don’t have children.
You keep telling me you know how to love better than I do.
Is that what you really want to say? That you, more than anyone else in the universe, know more about love than all the people that don’t have children. Is that what you want your children to think about all the people around them that aren’t parents? That they don’t truly love them because they have no depth? Is that what you really think?
If that is what you think, what you honesty believe. Could you maybe think about what those statements you make mean to people like me?
Could you have a think and then please, just stop doing that.