I Prefer the Term “Child-Free”

I’ve never wanted children. Even when I was a little girl, I disliked other kids. Playing with dolls was only fun because I got to style their fashions and create lives for them. Its one of the same reasons I grew up to love the game SIMS – I could create fully grown people and tell them exactly how to live their lives, complete control. Playing God, one could say.  But as a kid, the part of playing with a baby doll, changing pretend diapers full of pretend urine, singing it to sleep, carrying it around – to be honest, it grossed me out. I couldn’t understand why anybody would find that an enjoyable pastime. And as I got older, the idea of having children translated exactly the same.

For some reason, it is still somewhat unacceptable for a woman to choose to live a “childfree existence.” Females who choose this way of life are sometimes thought to be cold-hearted, selfish, or ‘not in touch with the self.’  When people would ask how many kids I wanted I would say, “None, if I’m lucky.” And suddenly I was transported to 1952, met with widening eyes and confused looks followed by endless comments and questions: “Why don’t you want to be a mom?” or  “Of course you want kids,” or the inevitable and condescending “Oh, you’ll want them when you get married.” (Right, because all it takes is the right man to convince me I don’t know who I am or what I want. But that’s a whole other blog.) I got so many negative reactions about not wanting kids that for awhile, I really thought there was something wrong with me. Girls were supposed to long for children, right?  Wasn’t my womb supposed to clinch every time I saw a woman pushing a stroller? Weren’t my daydreams supposed to be of finding the perfect husband/father and spending my days raising his munchkins?

Um, no.

My days were spent in dreams of celebrity and world domination, sunning myself in Capri, climbing pyramids in Egypt. Sometimes I’d throw in a husband, or a lover, but most times comfortably and blessedly alone. There was never the patter of little feet in my thirty-room mansion in the Hollywood Hills, or my flat in London.

As I grew older and started my lifestyle of “professional witch” I came to realize that I was a mother in many other ways. My work as an energy therapist and spiritual counselor required me to hold hands, instill discipline, and kiss the boo-boo’s to make it better. My friendships are full of listening and offering advice, supporting those I love with the proper encouragement. My environmental activities put me in the role of Mother Nature, taking care of the earth and making sure (at least in my corner of the world) that it survives and thrives. I saw that despite the fact it isn’t meant for me to have children, everything about me is mothering. A caretaker, a rock to be leaned on – simply because I am a woman, and that is what women do in every aspect of their lives, regardless of whether they are dealing with their own children or the world’s.

Some women are meant to mother children, which is the most important and difficult job on the planet. Others are meant to mother the world, which can be just as trying and just as rewarding. But the fact is we are all parents, in one way or another. And whatever we decide to give life to, to love, nourish, and provide for, is a valid personal choice.

Goddesses for Children

As the theme for the month is Pagan Parenting, here is a list of Goddesses who protect and help children. They are all wonderful focuses for ritual and activities with your little munchkins!

Bast – Egyptian goddess of annoiting. She is the creator of perfumes and oils, as well as the Mother of cats and the magickal power they contain. Considered the mirror to Sekhmet, Bast is the protector of women and children and brings health, joy, and prosperity to Her worshippers. She teaches children (including the inner child) to play without fear and enjoy life.

Demeter – Greek Goddess of the Harvest.  Mother of agriculture and the seasonal year, Demeter is the Goddess of the grains and parenthood.  Sympathetic to suffering and grief, those who call out to Her for aid are always answered.  She is the Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess, forming the triad with Persephone and Hecate.  Demeter’s endurance and ferocity in the struggle to rescue Her daughter Persephone from the Underworld expresses a mother’s protective love for child.  She keeps children safe from harm.

Eostre – also Ostara. Goddess of Spring to the Saxon and Germanic tribes.  Eostre is usually depicted as an adolescent girl or as a buxom young woman, representing the beginning of the spring season, and the ripeness found within.  Her name is derived from eastre, an ancient word for Spring, and She is the ultimate representation of the Maiden.  The Christian holiday Easter is actually named for Eostre’s festival, where she was honored as a fertility Goddess with painted eggs and sweet foods.

Lady of Beasts – Animal Goddess of the Middle East.  The title Lady of Beasts is used to describe a variety of Goddesses in many cultures.  She is best known in the Middle East, stretching into Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.  She is the life giving force of the universe, ruling wild forests, jungles, and the animals within them.  A birth and fertility goddess, Her presence is said to reproductively bless all women and animals. She protects animals domestic and wild, and teaches children to respect the animal kingdom. Lady of Beasts is generally depicted as a pregnant woman and surrounded by untamed animals.

Shasti – Hindu Goddess of Children.  Shasti protects mothers in labor and children until they reach puberty.  She is a favorite of midwives and nurses, and is pictured as a matronly figure riding a cat.