Posted by: Alice Fitzpatrick | May 12, 2013

A Mother Nonetheless

As part of my annual medical check up, I’ve recently had several ultrasounds.  I’ve found myself sharing the waiting room with pregnant couples, all soft-eyed, holding hands, and eagerly anticipating their first look and their first picture of their growing child.  It’s spring and everyone seems to be pregnant.

I don’t have children – well, not in the conventional sense.  All of my relationships were with men who made it very clear that they weren’t interested.  They all looked to me to take care of them, and I suspect they simply weren’t willing to share my attention and, dare I say it, mothering with anyone else.

P1020329.JPGBy the time I realized that I should make plans to have a baby on my own, it was too late.  I went into early onset menopause and the door to children well and truly slammed shut.

Being outside the world of children has made me acutely aware of how much time people who have children talk about them.  When groups of parents get together, the conversation very quickly turns to their own children, their friends’ children, and their neighbours’ children.  Their conversations are consumed with talk about clothes, food, behaviour, school assignments, and extra-curricular activities.  Now that many of my friends are of a certain age, they have begun all over again with their grandchildren.

To someone who is childless not by choice, their talk both hurts and excludes me.  I can’t join in the conversation.  I have no considered opinion to make.  Nothing I say will be taken seriously as it doesn’t come from sleepless nights or arguments about homework.  People talk over and around me as if I don’t exist, and in a way I don’t.  I’m not one of the inner circle.  I’m not a mother and never will be.  I cannot speak to their experiences or offer them advice.

What they don’t understand — in a way that can only be understood by other writers — is I do have children.  Each of my fictional characters is my child, from headstrong academic Kate, to hedonistic artist Siobhan, and even the three bachelor senior citizens who can be found downing whiskey at the local pub.

But people would find it strange when bragging about their children’s triumphs for me to share my pride when Kate solves a murder, Siobhan finally get her pottery website up and running, or when young Byron Finch is accepted as a CID trainee detective.

Kate’s daughter, Alex, is a particular favourite of mine, if a parent can be said to have a favourite.  When I was younger and wondered what my children would be like, I imagined a daughter whom I would meet for lunch, afternoon shopping trips, and concerts.  She would be someone who was intelligent and determined.  Alexandra, Alex to her friends and family, is that young woman.  A barrister intent on becoming the youngest partner in her firm, Alex was a gift to myself, the daughter I’ve always wanted.

So if the definition of a parent is someone who nurtures, who helps her offspring to find their own way in the world, who loves unconditionally, then I have children, lots of them.  Yes, they cause me frustration and heartache, but they also give me much joy.  And I couldn’t be prouder of each and every one of them.  Even the murderers.

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Responses

  1. Hi Alice,

    This is a great piece and superbly written! I really agree with you that your characters are your children – you are intimately and constantly involved with them and they are such a crucial part of your conscious (and unconscious) life.

    I hope you get lots of good feedback about this piece because it deserves it! Thanks for sending it to me.

    Warmly, Caroline

  2. Hello Caroline,

    Thanks for your kind comments. I think that all writers would say that their characters are an extension of themselves, which is what I suspect most parents would say about their children. The good thing about my “children” is that I don’t have to bankrupt myself paying for their university education!

    Alice


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