The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Do

Right now, there’s a really annoying song on the radio. I wasn’t really listening until she got to the line: “The greatest thing you’ll ever do is have a child.” Yeah. Whoever the singer is goes on to say it’s so great to have a … son (big surprise), that having a son means a woman has the world in the palm of her hand.

The idea that my worth is measured by the children I’ve had is hurtful. If I were childless by choice, this kind of thinking would upset me. But my childlessness wasn’t part of any kind of plan I had for my life. It’s just where my life has left me, so hearing things like this song really touch a nerve.

A few months ago, I learned that a woman I’d met had died suddenly. I was shocked and trying to process that when the person who gave me the news went on to say it wasn’t so bad because she wasn’t married and didn’t have any children. “You know, she was single …” (which was when she seemed to hear what she was saying, to realize she was saying to a single, childless woman that the death of a single, childless woman wasn’t a big deal or a great loss) “… so at least there isn’t anything like that to worry about.” Yeah. She died suddenly, a relatively young woman, but it’s ok because it’s not as though she mattered to anyone.

My inability to have a baby rears its teary head fairly often, but certainly on this day, it’s real close to the surface. So close, that even hearing a song as completely inane as this one is enough to open the floodgates.


7 thoughts on “The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Do

  1. Maggie, dammit

    I want to say something profound but all I can do is sit here and sigh. Over and over again, staring at this blank comment box and knowing I want to say something, just not sure what it is.

    All I’ve got is, “I hate people.”

    Glad I could help.


  2. inmate1972

    Yes, once again, women are no more than the product of of their uteruses…sigh…Seriously, I hate women who say that kind crap. It just reinforces the point that we women are our own worst enemies.

    It reminds me when I was younger and guy told another guy about me (within my earshot) of what a good mother I would make. Funny, I always thought I would make a great woman, or leader, but that’s besides the point.

    To say something of that nature is snap judgement. It”s derisive and frankly, a load of crap. I’m sure you will be well remembered by your students long after tick-tock years.


  3. Yikes, that was indeed a tactless remark. I’m so sorry you aren’t able to have children. (I have never wanted them, but a few years ago, I found out that I might not have been able to have them if I HAD wanted them, and there was a definite pang of grief for that child who is not to be.)


  4. It’s sexism at its best when someone measures a woman’s worth by whether or not she was a vessel for human life. I can see how this might’ve been important back in the days of, say, Abraham — you know, when they were populating the earth for the first time, but now? Really? Your life has tremendous value and don’t let any small-minded Old Testament fool tell you otherwise! (Sorry if this is a bit edgy…I’ve been taking a class on Social Cultural Counseling and I’ve been pissed off for four months because of it.)


  5. Thanks very much, everyone. I want to defend the woman who made that comment … but then I don’t want to defend her. I know she didn’t mean to be hurtful to me, but the thought she expressed came from a place of truth in her, even if she never realized she felt that way until it tumbled out of her mouth. [sigh]

    It is sexist … and a bit elitist (if I can dare to use the word!), placing the speaker in the position of being the ‘good’ one, the one who ‘got it right.’ Again, I’m sure the speaker didn’t mean that at all, would never have thought she thought such a thing, but the message is there all the same.

    I know my life has value … or at least I know it most of the time, but my Inner Mean Person sounds like the woman in my post (on steroids), so I forget sometimes. And then to hear someone actually say the words … that was hard.

    (Maggie– you’ve no need to be profound. I’m glad you’re there and listening.

    Erika– I’ve missed you! Hope all’s well. I’m fascinated by the sound of Social Cultural Counseling. Hope you’ll write about that.)


  6. shasha

    the song is just an opinion of hers, and as a woman, more than anything else, if we want to be happy with ourselves we should stop putting more value in other people’s opinion than our own…you know your own worth.


  7. Hi, Shasha–
    Thanks for visiting my site. I don’t have any doubts about my worth as a person or as a woman. My point was that the song called up my sadness over my inability to carry to term, my inability to have a baby. It says nothing about my worth, only about having to accept the impossibility of a dream I’ve had my whole life.

    I do, however, believe the world views a woman’s value in terms of whether or not she has children, that women are often seen as baby-makers and little else, and that is certainly the implication of that ridiculous song. It was certainly also the implication of the woman who pretty much dismissed the death I described in the post.

    Individual women can be aware of their value as people. Of course. But the world view needs to change.

    Thanks, again for stopping by.


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