I have always imagined being a mum.
An older sister from the age of 15 months, I played mum to my two younger brothers and have often assumed a caring role for friends and in jobs over the years since. If you asked me what I thought my life would look like by my current age, it would certainly have included children, and whilst I love working, I’ve never been motivated solely by a career path.
On reflection, I think it is a good thing that there aren’t yet children filling my home – my understanding of what family is and all it could be has changed significantly from the nuclear version I once would have assumed.
Because I believe being a mum is part of my future and still, I am not yet a mother.
Waiting is something that is all too familiar to most of us, but that is often uncomfortable in a society that values everything instant and immediate. Whether it’s waiting for a job, a new place to call home, a holiday, or waiting for a family through the trials of singleness, fertility treatment, adoption or fostering assessment, panel and then matching, many of us know what it is to wait for the things on our hearts.
As Christians, we believe and trust in a God that promises good things and longs to fulfil the desires of our hearts. One verse that I have held onto over the years as I have waited for different things or for things to pass is Habakkuk 2.3: ‘Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay’. The Hope of God’s revelation at ‘an appointed time’ is a comfort and a reassurance.
But in an imperfect world, with my frequently far from perfect longings, I know the reality that not everything is completed in this life.
However, as I sit in the waiting room to becoming a mum, for an indefinite period of time, I can use the time to pursue and to explore. I have friends who are enduring fertility treatment and I have friends who are enduring pregnancies. Much like being in the waiting rooms of the many appointments they each have, I can choose to use my waiting. Instead of reading the outdated magazines scattered in a GP’s surgery, I want to read stories that broaden my expectations of family and that teach me more about mothering than any practical how-to manual.
I want to have conversations with those around me who are waiting, and those who have waited, to find out what they have learnt about God, themselves, their families. I want to be preparing my home, my head and my heart by finding out more about the needs of children in the care of my local authority, about the process of looking after them, about who I could be for one of them if I were to foster or adopt one day.
I want to be delighting in the children and young people around me; my nephew, my goddaughter, my church family.
The pain, the frustration, the boredom, the nervousness, the anticipation, the hope, the dreams, all still exist. I want to acknowledge these feelings – when I am the only uncoupled person at yet another party with peers, when I am the only one without a child at yet another baby shower, when I am the one without ‘a family of my own’ at extended family gatherings – but I don’t want them to hold me back from living and enjoying in the waiting.
I want the ‘not yet’ to shape my ‘now’ as I pursue something I believe is part of my future, but I don’t want the ‘not yet’ to dictate all I am. Whilst I hold on to the idea of being a mum one day, I don’t know what form that will take for me. I don’t know how children will come into my life, just as I don’t know what the timescale for that will be.
So I will continue in my waiting with a heart to love and to hope and to explore, wanting to be open to the many different possibilities as to how, at some point in the future, I will be a mum – however and whenever that will be.