WRITTEN BY Seher Sikander
After a lifetime of deeply desiring my own children, in late 2015, I realized for the first time in my life that I felt disinclined to be a mother. The feeling remained, even grew, in the years that followed, and I simultaneously found myself adoring mothers as peers. I’m sure that much of what I admired in them stemmed from the character-building exercise that is motherhood.
Writing this down now is my first time realizing that my disinterest in motherhood and my interest in mothers as friends coincided. I can’t help but wonder if there is some universally-orchestrated correlation here. Am I being shown how rad mothers are and guilted into changing my mind about being one? Or am I being shown another way to love children and be in family— through community stewardship of our young ones, arm-in-arm with my bad ass mother pals?
Due to our conditioning and limited, rational minds, we often restrict the realm of what we believe to be possible—whether that’s logic-ing ourselves into a box or simply being out of awareness–that is, until a possibility we never expected is illustrated for us in real life. For me, all I needed was a glimpse of a different world.
An acquaintance named Mia Birdsong founded a think tank called Family Story that endeavors to give space, honor, and credence to varied family structures. When I posted on Facebook about questioning motherhood a few years ago, Mia quickly responded affirming my sentiment. She shared that there are no replacements for the different community roles that contribute to the raising of a child. She said, “There is nothing like being an aunt. I can’t do that for my child. Our communities need more aunties.”
Here I am now, giving this possibility some real consideration. Though I am still not clear on what kind of family structure I want for my home life, I do believe it is being revealed to me what kind of community I want to live in.
What is it to offer deep love, care, and consideration to a child as if they were your own, but they are not your own? Perhaps not even related to you by blood? Is that not a character-building exercise in service to unconditional universal love itself? What is it to consider myself a mother even without my very own child? To instead be a mother and steward to this earth, its villages, and all its beings through heart-centered service? And then to commune as a mother in collective wisdom and grace with other mothers of various stripes, affinities, and walks?
I believe there is something to uncover and behold about the innate existential motherhood of simply being a woman or a femme. We carry civilization—in our wombs, on our backs, from our hearts. It need not be so literal.
As I unfold this particular piece of my self-discovery, I find myself wanting to break down more and more constructs, within romance, friendship, family, work, my relationship to myself–even simply, yet profoundly, regularly re-calibrating which Seher shows up on the subway, on the street, at the cash register, or in a challenging moment with a stranger. The only roles we have to play are the ones we choose to engage in and give power to through our complicity. What I am realizing the more I divorce myself from outdated constructs and roles, is all that’s left on the other side is unconditional love.
Thank you so much, Seher!