A Childless Mom is a Real Mom

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a single blue flower against a black background on A Childless Mom is a Real Mom on Not So Mommy..., a Childless Blog
Trigger Warning:  An open and frank discussion about what it means to be a real mom…

A childless mom is a real mom.  What?!  How can someone possibly be a childless mom?  And if you can’t be a childless mom, then how can a childless mom be a real mom?  Well, indulge me for a moment as I navigate the complex path of what it means to be a real mom…

Is a dog mom a real mom?

I began contemplating all of this when a fellow infertility warrior commented that her friends claimed that dog moms aren’t real moms.  It isn’t the first time I’ve heard this opinion.  And I’m quite certain it’s not the last time that someone will make this claim.  And like my infertility sister, this glib statement has caused me much pain, doubting my place, doubting my feelings…

Then, I came across a quote which stated, “6 + 3 = 9, but so does 5 + 4…”  And it got me to thinking…  There are lots of ways to be a mom, LOTS of ways to love with a mom heart…

Does real mean traditional?

Because “real” doesn’t mean “traditional.”  If we assert that only traditional moms are real moms, then there are an awful lot of people claiming to be moms who aren’t.  Because a traditional mom (in the strictest sense of the word) would be a woman who was able to get pregnant without any medical assistance and gave birth to a living, biological child.  And if that’s the only women who are “real moms,” then anyone who needs assisted reproductive technologies isn’t a real mom.  Anyone who adopts isn’t a real mom.  Anyone who deviates at all from this narrow definition isn’t a real mom.

But we all know that women who have babies via IVF are real moms.  Women who adopt are real moms, too.  Why?  Because they have a two-legged kid?

Is a host mom a real mom?

Well, I hosted a foreign exchange student–a two-legged kid.  I was a host mom, so that means I’m a real mom, right?  Many would say “no.”  Because this kid only lived with us for six months and has biological parents that she returned home to.  So, being a host mom isn’t a real mom.

And if being a host mom to a two-legged kid isn’t real, then surely being a dog mom to a four-legged fur baby clearly places me outside the “real mom” box.

But it doesn’t.

Because my definition of a real mom is not nearly as strict and narrow and traditional.  My definition of a real mom is a woman who loves and cares for another with her entire heart.  It is a woman who thinks about the needs of her kids—whether those kids be two-legged exchange students or four-legged fur babies.  It is a woman who realizes that being a real mom is so much more than biology…

Is a childless mom a real mom?

And why do I share all of this on a Good Things Monday?  Because it is a fabulous thing that I have reached the point in my childless journey where I don’t just say these words, but I believe these words.

For so long, I felt like a fraud, like dog moms and host moms weren’t real moms.  But now, I know that my love for Bruna and Maddie is beyond real.  And I am so, so grateful that I have embraced my non-traditional, real mom roles.  I am so, so grateful that (most of the time) I don’t allow others to tell me who I am or what roles are true, valid, real.

I am free to be me!  A wife, dog mom, aunt, host mom, childless but not childfree, infertile woman who is a real mom.

A childless mom.

How does that add up?  5.25 + 3.75?!

Well, no matter the equation, a childless mom is a real mom, too.  Even if you aren’t a dog mom, cat mom, fur baby mom, or host mom, you are still a real mom.  Because you love your little with your entire heart.  And you do this despite the fact that you never got to meet this little…

Yes, a childless mom is a real mom.

Now that is something to think about…  And that is most definitely a good thing.

6+3=9, but so does 5+4. Respect other people's way of thinking.


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Jane (UK) P July 11, 2018 - 11:06 am

Love this post Brandi – “loving with all your heart”, that makes total sense to me. I think we can “mum” upwards. I supported both my parents when my Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 8 years ago and my mum developed all sorts of knee, hip and back issues. When my Dad was still mobile they used travel in by bus and meet me for lunch. I was hurrying back to work one time and rushing them both – it was raining and I threw their hoods up on their rain coats as I was rushing off – my mum was holding onto my Dad with one hand and her bag and stick with the other – my dear dad didn’t have the know-how to do anything – but say “I can’t see”. I stopped and readjusted their hoods, looking into their dear, helpless faces and laughed at myself for being impatient and very Mum like. I decided there and then that work could wait and walked them back to the bus and helped them get sat down (waited with them if the bus was late) from that day forward. We had a lot of stress and difficulties along the way but I definitely became their Mum for 8 years and will always be glad I had some moments that I can really relate to and that have helped me since my Dad passed last October and helped me realize “I am a Mum”. Thank you again – wonderful to see this and feel it with such clarity.

Brandi Lytle July 11, 2018 - 11:36 am

Jane, I am so grateful that this post spoke to you! I had reservations about sharing, but felt strongly that I should speak with my authentic voice. The response from our tribe has been so overwhelming and positive!

I am so sorry for your loss. It is so difficult to lose your Dad. I am grateful that you have wonderful memories in your heart. Your story made me smile and tear up all at once. You were awesome to realize that you needed to slow down and enjoy those moments. (And you were definitely very “Mum-like!”) My Grandad has Alzheimer’s, as well. It is a tough disease. When I visit family back in Oklahoma, I always make sure to spend some time with him and my Nana.

Again, thank you so much for sharing part of your story! I am so blessed to be meeting other childless moms on this journey… Hugs, my friend!

Judy Odum July 7, 2018 - 9:47 am

Thankfully every box is different and we all have different experiences as Moms!!!

Sherry July 2, 2018 - 2:44 pm

?Love the fraction equation. The minute you realize not all things are cut and dried, in a box with a bow, your life begins to have so much more meaning. Open your heart and love.

Brandi Lytle July 2, 2018 - 3:26 pm

Exactly! Rarely do things turn out like we expected because rarely do things fit “in a box with a bow.”


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