God Bless The Children

Val Langelair

© Copyright 2002 by Val Langelair

This is a piece about not being able to have children. I feel very strongly about this subject and hope I don’t step on too many readers’ toes in my thoughts. 

Photo of a poster for World Childrens Day.

Children. That word conjures up loads of mixed emotions in me. As a little girl, I adored playing with dolls and dreamed of being called “Mom,” “Mummy,” “Mamma,” “Mother,” “Mammina,” “Ma.” The variations are numerous. I had many dolls and would dress them, feed them, change their nappies, take them for walks and kiss away their pretend tears, which I had probably caused in one of my childhood tantrums. I often told them that I, their Mummy, loved them because they were my special little girls. My favourite doll was Rosie which I often commented “has blue eyes that open and close like real people,” She was very special because she was my first ever dolly. She had been through the wars and lost a hand somewhere along the way, so needed more love and attention than the others. I would comb her long brown hair and fuss over her as a real mother would. Growing up I put away my dolls for future use, along with my dream of motherhood and concentrated on my career plans. I thought that there would be plenty of time to start “later on.” And “later on” it was, as I didn’t find my destined “twin soul” until nearly the end of my twenty’s and married just past the “sell by date” of thirty something. We began trying for a family shortly after.

My “twin soul” Fran is nearly eight years younger than I am and has two older brothers. The eldest who we won’t name, has a son aged 9, born on the same birth date as me. The middle brother still unnamed, has two sons aged 11 and 4, the youngest also being one of my Godchildren. I have a sister who is 11 months younger than I am and she has three children; a girl aged 13 (another Godchild), and two boys aged 9 and 6. Why then I ask myself, have we been left out? Isn’t it supposed to be equal shares for all?

News of these blessings mostly came at times when another one of my disappointment monthly’s showed its ugly face. I was always happy for the respective mother or father, but so torn up inside for me and my husband. “Your turn next,” was the favourite phrase every time, but I always seemed to lose my place in the queue. Someone always stole my number when my back was turned for a second?

Years have passed and still no “patter of tiny feet,” no “storks with little bundles of joy” to bless our welcoming home. It gets harder to accept as time ticks by. Harder because we know that there’s nothing wrong with either of us, (non compatibility tests checked out OK too) yet we cannot joyfully utter words like “my beautiful child. We love you,” or “come here baby let mummy kiss it better.” So why us? Not that I wish this on anyone else, but at the same time I would never have wished it upon myself either. It was never something I ever dreamed of being a problem. Why then is this natural occurrence so difficult to achieve? Is it really a miracle and we’re not amongst the lucky ones in this life that will be counted and included at “the baby awards” time? No answers. This is just something which cannot be controlled and is so debilitating for your soul. In the early days of trying, I often wondered how any woman (blessed in my books) with the joy of conceiving could then abort; sometimes more than once or twice? Hadn’t they heard of contraception or that prevention is the best cure? I used to take it personally when another infant killing or abandonment was announced on television and would rant and rave at the images of hooded mothers or street bins where bundles in black bags had been found. I wanted someone to explain to me how a mother could do that to her offspring, having carried a human life within her own self for nine months. It was beyond my logical mind. My anger and pain grew as that same opportunity to carry a life within me was denied over and over again and yet given to others so freely, that they felt it was their right to throw it away as easy as the sweet wrapper on a candy bar. I now realise it was never my place to judge and feel sorry I allowed myself to be that way. I guess that anyone who ends a life of a child must be desperate to commit that act. They must have their own reasons and will have to answer to a higher judge in the future. During a recent illness I’m ecstatic at the thought that my turn has finally come, only to be disillusioned again when it is taken away as quickly as it arrived. Does my maker really enjoy my anguish or is it just me who feels victimised and abandoned? (Other feelings which have now been put in their right place).

As time passed by, hurtful comments slipped out in conversation about my hubby like “oh he’s probably firing blanks” or “you need a real man.” Then questions directed at me like “what are you waiting for?” or “you’re not exactly a young chicken anymore are you?” The questions finally dwindle away and we decide to accept our lot and continue with fulfilling our lives in other ways. Unknown plans from above are obviously our destiny, so we accept this decision. Tranquillity at last. No more constant stress in having to check good or bad days to conceive. Nowadays if we’re asked about children, we simply reply “unfortunately we can’t have them,” and people either accept or are too polite to question the reasons why.

I look at my mother and realise how lucky I am. She is a wonderful, remarkable woman. When my father died at the young age of 29, this pint sized incredible woman (being only a month’s difference in age) took over as “Mom” and “Dad” and oozed love from her one small human package. In the earlier days, when she was forced to change from housewife to secretary then back to teacher’s training college (as her teaching qualifications or experience couldn’t be transferred), life wasn’t easy. Yet she brought us up single handedly and went without many times so that we never missed out on anything. Thinking about it, I can’t remember once ever hearing her complain. She is now sixty nine years old and retired early seven years ago from a well deserved Headship due to high blood pressure. She now also suffers with diabetes, but is still so naturally active at home, in church and with my sister’s children, that you’d think she was a young woman all over again. If I had ever been blessed as a Mom, she would still be my favourite role model.

So now I’m going to get up on my soap box and preach a little. I hope you don’t mind and if you do, maybe there’s sense in the saying “the truth always hurts.” I just want to say to anyone out there lucky enough to be called “Mom,” or “Dad,” please remember the poor folk who will never be able to have that blessing. Bite your tongue before your human nature allows you to comment or joke about this sad predicament. On the other hand, be happy and praise your child’s achievements, however small or seemingly insignificant. Be loving and understanding and don’t let silly upsets ruin a beautiful relationship. Don’t be blinded by a tug of wills allowing words to be spoken in anger or leaving them unsaid because of pride. Be happy that you are really blessed and show your appreciation to your offspring. Just make time for them and tell them constantly how much you love them and are happy they are in this world. Children are our future and need secure loving environments NOW to enable them to perform at their best later on. Life’s too short to waste time trying to control because always remember that children are born to parents, but the parents don’t own their souls.

I still feel very fortunate to share in the love of my niece and nephews, who treasure my words of comfort and guidance. The three in London often hug me when I’m there and come to visit me regularly here in Italy. The three here obviously have me on a more full time basis. My Godchildren are also very special in my life, along with their respective brothers or sisters and remember me on mother’s day when they send Godmother cards. It’s gets a little busy present wise on birthdays, holidays, or Christmas time but I don’t mind one little bit. I guess my role in this life is another one and I know I am still really blessed with my titles of “Aunty Val,” “Zia Val,” or Godmother from many little souls who need and love me the same as if I were their own “Mamma.”

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