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Confessions of a Compulsive Motherer

By: Christine Fishel

Everywhere I go, I am surrounded by little kids. And it’s not that they are drawn to me, it’s that I am drawn to them. I have four children of my own, and I can’t seem to get enough others around me.

I’m exhausted from the hands-on physical and emotional care they need, and constantly fighting off the variety of germs they pass on to me through their runny noses and dirty diapers. As I turn the corner towards 50 years old, I’m starting to think I’m getting too old for this. And yet, I can’t seem to get enough of them.

So…what’s up with that?

When I was struggling through infertility in my 30’s someone told me I may never give birth to a child, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be influential to many children. I didn’t like hearing that; I wanted to be a mom. Still, I think about that comment now as I look at my life surrounded by children.

After two years of fertility treatment, my husband and I began to grow our family through adoption. Over eight years, we adopted four newborn babies and became a family of 6. When our youngest was 3, I was offered the opportunity to provide childcare for an infant. I jumped at the chance…a baby! As she grew older, there have been more babies and toddlers and preschoolers that have come into our home to spend their days with me while their parents work. They mingle with my four children and we become one long train of fun chaos wherever we go.

Recently, during a long weekend of rest with my husband, I thought about my compulsion to mother children. I really wonder where that comes from. Here are some of the things I’ve thought about:

Being a Motherless Daughter influences a woman, whether she lost a nurturing mother at a young age or was raised by a mother who wasn’t nurturing. Motherless Daughters want to do it all better—perfect—for our children so they don’t have to experience what we experienced. Is that why I want to be a perfect mom not only to my four children, but to any others who will have me?

My inability to conceive and give birth has created an unfulfilled desire for more, more, more mothering. As a young child, I mothered my dolls. My kindergarten report card shows that I mothered fellow students. I couldn’t wait to grow up and have a mini-me to mother for real. Not getting the opportunity to experience the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth was a giant disappointment. And, although I finally realized that what I truly desired was to be a mom and that didn’t require pregnancy and childbirth on my part, I wonder if my past grief over my infertility has something to do with this.

I chose the wrong career(s) in my younger years. I was a copywriter at a publishing company, a manufacturing consultant, and a bank foundation office assistant. The fact that I “career hopped” should have been a clue, but it wasn’t until I felt the love of Jesus in my early 30’s that I began a career in youth ministry and felt the satisfaction of being a loving support to a young person. It, too, was a short-lived career as we began to fill our home with babies to raise as our own, and then I began to take on the care of more babies from other families during the daytime hours. Sometimes, especially on Thursday evenings of a long exhausting week of child caring, when I still have one more long day to go, I wonder if things would have been different—better?—if I had been a nurse from the get-go.

Why do I have this compulsion to be a motherer? Maybe the answer lies in one of the reasons above. Maybe it’s a combination of those. And maybe, like one friend told me, I’m just using the natural urge to nurture others that God designed within women. I do believe I’m living—finally–the life God intended for me. And I guess I don’t really need to know why. I trust Him, I love these children, and who couldn’t use more lovin’ in their life?

Comments(4)

  1. Reply
    Debbie Reese says

    I too experienced and still do the same thing. We adopted our daughter when she was 7. Never got the opportunity to me a mom of an infant. My daughter is 28 now and we seldom see her. She has detachment disorder, and a possisive husband. I still feel childless. After years of doing g data entry for insurance I started doing daycare
    Nanny while my husband was in Seminary. I’ve always been drawn to children. It helps but it doesn’t fill the emptiness. If my daughter does have children we most likly wouldn’t have a normal grandparent relationship. It’s a joy to my husband and I both being around d these children. Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t feel so alone . It’s helped me understand my frustration

    • Reply
      Christine says

      Debbie, I’m so sorry to hear that we’re in the same club. It’s not easy. I’m glad you know that you are not alone. Please feel free to email me at christine@motherlessdaughtersministry.com anytime you want to communicate with someone who understands. Prayers and love, Christine

  2. Reply
    Mary Ellen Collins says

    I think this fits for me too. I have this compulsion to help other women and that in itself is a form of mothering isn’t it.

    • Reply
      Chris says

      I completely agree, friend. You have been influential to me in many beautiful ways that I missed out on. That type of friendship is more valuable than I had realized when I took the Motherless Daughters Journey class and heard about the importance of needing women in your life to fill the various roles of mothering. I am a slow learner, and learning through experience. But I can now say that nurturing relationships with other women are so very important. When I allow myself to receive from another, I am able to give to another. Thank you for teaching me that.

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