~“L” reflects on the potential for motherhood as a single woman.

It was a typical afternoon on my period. My cramps, though they started out mild, grew increasingly severe. Despite the ibuprofen I took, I eventually found myself doubling over in pain. In the shower, waiting for the hot water to run over me to ease the pain, just a little. As this particular spasm moved through me, I found myself thinking, I have been dealing with these painful cycles month after month for nearly 25 years now. I used to be able to make some sense of this experience by dreaming about potential children I would bear in the future. That someday, this painful cycle each month would all be worth it because I would give life to a new life inside me. We can suffer much if we know it will bring about a greater good. However as the years slip by, I find this less and less of a vague future consolation. I found myself thinking recently “But what is this even worth? To go through this each month, and what if I never have a child to at least make it feel like this was all worth something.”

And then suddenly, in that moment, something pieced my heart. Something that said, “You are a woman. Your body is designed to give life. This is the price you pay to have that incredible reality etched into your soul. You bleed because in your nature, you are made to be a gift. Your body is a mark of your femininity. It reflects that ability to pour yourself out to the world. The embodied experience is part of the whole.”

In that moment, something in me shifted. Somehow I accepted this meaning that was offered to me. It wasn’t any certain consolation that I would one day have a child. It was the conviction that to be a woman, to have this capacity to bear life and nourish life, that was a privilege. I don’t experience the pangs of childbirth but I do experience the pangs of that monthly reminder of that call that I have received.  My body was designed to nurture and give life; right now that is not in a concrete physical life of a baby but rather through the daily people that the Lord puts in my path.

I don’t need a pregnancy or a baby to give meaning to the pain and hassle I experience from being a woman; the hormonal swings, the imbalances, the pain and the frustrations. My body is a concrete expression of my femininity and my femininity is a gift to the world. It is through my femininity that I encounter the world.

I don’t know if I will get to be a mother. But I do know, I will get to be a gift.