What if I Want to be a Mother, But Never Have Children?


Many girls long to be a mother. Other girls cringe at the idea of having children. I fall somewhere in the middle. To be honest, sixteen-year-old me thought that I'd be a bride by now at the age of twenty-three. Maybe even a kid or two. As I speculate and scheme about my future, children are not a part of it. The caveat is that I grew up thinking that every woman must be a wife and mother. I've had so many wives and mothers tell me that there is no greater joy. Yet here I am, unmarried and childless, and joyful as can be.

I know that there are those in more traditional circles who consider me with raised eyebrows. There is currently no boyfriend or future marriage in sight, so what's to become of me?

When the church defines the role of women, they often cite Titus 2:3-5:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

I precisely agree with Paul's writing to the women of the church. But, that is not the sum of women's role, especially unmarried women. It's not the whole picture.

Yes, I adore children. I want a million nieces and nephews and my dream job is to write children’s literature. But a mother?  I am open to whatever God has planned. Know that I would enjoy being a mom. But for now I'm grateful for and revel in the life of freedom that comes without kids.

But this is not about whether I want children. I submitted my will and desires to the Master Planner a long time ago, so I accept whatever He gives me. It is more about being content. And squeezing 100% of the life and opportunity He has given me where I am.

The modern narrative, secular or not, is that women need something extra. Something else besides God. Some say women need careers. Others say women need families.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. - Psalm 16:11

Having kids will not satisfy you. Getting a promotion should not define you. He is the only source of true fulfillment. As I gaze into the face of an unknown future, I do not "make room" in my plans for a man or children. Because I submit my plans to God for approval, I do not make contingencies. My goal of earning an M.A. in Linguistics is not my Plan B. I make it my Plan A. But I will accept whatever God gives me.

This sort of perseverance is not natural to me. I used to cry out to God in frustration and anger because I thought He had forgotten me. When my friends were getting engaged and married, I was happy to celebrate them. But inside I felt empty.  When I moved out of state away from family and friends, the loneliness only increased. I convinced myself that if I just had a little family with kids and a Golden Retriever, I'd be happy. The world would be right then. This kind of wishful thinking caused exponential pain and it pushed me to a breaking point.

Exasperated, I gave Him all that I had, my loneliness and unfulfilled desires, as a gift:

I don't know what You can do with this, Lord. But I know that Your story never ends in ashes. All I have to give is loneliness and disappointment. Please turn this into something beautiful.

I couldn't handle the weight (or wait!) of it anymore. Slowly, I learned to live one day at a time. Today, I am single. That's all He lets me know and I thank Him for it. I developed a childlike trust in His greater knowledge.  Day by day and step by step, He drew me away from the worries of this life and closer to Himself.

I heightened my attention to the daily joys of life because I worried less. Thanked Him more. My appetite for life actually grew along with my gratitude.

I have reached a point where I relish being single. For now, I prefer it this way. There are so many things I want to do! My whole life lays before me, uninterrupted.  If a family is not part of it, then there is plenty of room for the God-sized dreams He has placed on my heart.

We should gain skills that will make us excellent parents and spouses. Learn how to cook wonderful, nutritious meals. Work on your decorating skills. Keep in mind that these skills are not limited to benefiting a family. They will also help you to reach your potential as a godly, well-rounded woman.

By God's grace, I am proof that you can be without a husband or children and still be joyful. You can be childless, whole, and without bitterness or anger towards God. Instead, I thank Him for this season (which may last a lifetime!). I thank Him for the chance to grow, for the freedom to explore and the time to invest in others.

Be honest with God about your struggles, and ask Him to walk with you daily. Ask Him to show you how to live abundantly. If you’re like me and you know you’d like to have children someday, I encourage you to give these maternal instincts to God. He has proven Himself faithful, so you trust Him to either give you a family or to keep your heart steady and secure in Him.