Womanhood Without Motherhood?
The Story Behind My Choice to
Not Have Kids

I’m a woman in her fabulous 40s who wasn’t blessed to have children. How have you managed being a successful businesswoman without children? Was it by choice? Do you have any feelings of regret not having children? Did you always know your business would be your mark in the world, impacting women’s lives for the positive?

— Danyelle Gibson-Grant

What I’m about to say might sound politically incorrect at first, but it’s the truth for me. Danyelle, I am a woman in her fabulous forties who was blessed not to have children! That’s not to say that children aren’t a tremendous blessing for all the mothers out there and for society as a whole, but I believe we all receive different blessings in this lifetime and I can tell you that I do not see my situation as one of lack.

However, I didn’t always know that this would be my path and I’m happy to share the story of how I got here. Growing up in Troy, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit) I couldn’t possibly have imagined my life the way it is today. First of all, I’m Italian, so of course I was going to have children—two boys and two girls (#lord). I imagined spending summers in Tuscany with my Italian husband (black hair and green eyes), our big family gathered around a massive table in the garden. (#hilarious!)

“Unless you must—don’t.”

I never really planned on having much of a career. The idea of “leaving my mark” wasn’t on my radar or that of those around me. Instead I was so clear that I was going to marry a rich man and travel the world with my children. At most I thought I’d write a book. Fast forward to now, and I haven’t married a rich man, written a book or given birth to four children, but I do have a wonderful career. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

So life is not at all as I anticipated before leaving home and I’m grateful for that. I feel extraordinarily blessed to have discovered all the parts of myself that had been on autopilot, leading me toward a life I didn’t necessarily want because I just assumed it was for me. When it came to having children, the assumption that I would eventually have them was so strong that it wasn’t until the last minute that I chose to drop motherhood from my plans.

I was 32 when I met Glenn and I thought we had plenty of time. It was Los Angeles after all and not abnormal for women to give birth in their late 30s or even early 40s. Those first eight years together, we were having such a beautiful time with each other. We got married, travelled the world and built our business. It was all very meaningful, fulfilling and rewarding. It never felt like anything was missing.

So when I turned 40 and we still hadn’t made the leap to become parents, I turned to Glenn and said, “This is it. It’s time.” We had started getting ready (I was knitting a baby blanket of the loveliest cream cashmere!) when one night I went to dinner in New York City with a very wise friend named Regena Thomashauer, otherwise known as Mama Gena of the School of Womanly Arts.

“We live in an era where you don’t have to sacrifice your children or your relationship to have a business.”

Over dinner, the topic of motherhood came up. I replied, “I’m definitely having kids. Now that I’m back from my travels we’re settling in and we’re going to do it!” And she looked at me and said, “Unless you must—don’t.”

The way she spoke this truth pierced my heart. It felt like this was the warning I needed to hear and suddenly a part of me that had long been running on autopilot (in this area of my life) was in question. For the first time I had to dig deep and ask my soul, “is becoming a mother a MUST for me?”

The answer I got, was no. I was surprised and I went into a very deep mourning for three days. After all, I had built up a whole vision for my life around motherhood. I was looking forward to being pregnant, having a baby shower and taking my four-year-old daughter shopping. My sense of loss lasted two full weeks as I said goodbye to what for me was only a fantasy.

After this period of grieving, I felt completely at peace. I knew I had made the right decision and I felt so grateful to Regena for speaking those words of wisdom that I clearly needed to hear. I’m also grateful that I had the courage to not just go ahead with what I always thought I wanted or what was expected of me, but to make a decision based on my own soul’s desires.

Now a few years later, I can firmly say I do not regret my choice at all. I’m truly happy and fulfilled with my life as it is even in the midst of its challenges and imperfections. As for how my success plays into it, typically the question women ask me is how can they manage having a successful business with children.  People often assume I’m able to do what I do because I’m not a mother. It is a judgement I face, but I don’t take it personally because I know it’s only an excuse people make to stop themselves from going for it.

“There is no one right way to enjoy a fulfilling life as a woman on this planet.”

Thankfully I have plenty of clients (at least 50%) who are mothers (of infants to toddlers to teenagers) and are bravely modeling for women that motherhood has nothing to do with whether or not you can create what you desire or achieve your career goals. We live in an era where you don’t have to sacrifice your children or your relationship to have a business. That’s just an old mentality, and today we know to be solutions-oriented and ask, how can we live a full and thriving life?

In sharing my story, I hope that we can all move away from treating each other’s life choices with judgment or assumptions. I talk to women every single day. Some of them say, “I love my children, but my purpose on this planet is not exclusively to be a mother.” Others say, “Motherhood is my deepest purpose.” Either one is okay. There is no one right way to enjoy a fulfilling life as a woman on this planet. We shouldn’t assume that someone doesn’t understand the meaning of life because they don’t have kids or on the other hand, because they don’t have a business.

At the end of the day, a woman is successful when she chooses to live her truth. God has a plan for each and every one of us and when we take ourselves off autopilot, move past our fears and allow our lives to be used for the greater good, that’s when incredible things happen.

So whatever choices you’ve made in life thus far, know that you never have to let them limit what you can achieve, give, create and do in this world. Even if you have regrets, you don’t have to let them hold you back. Life is always ready to begin again. Rather than ask how you can leave your mark, ask, how can I be of service? In the answer to that question, you’ll find confidence and purpose in whatever path is right for you.

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