I Collected Things for the Babies I Never Had.

My spine stiffened when I heard a woman speak the dreaded phrase to my eighteen-year-old niece last week. I should have added, ‘If she has children.’ But I said nothing. Years of conditioning has silenced me.

Like most teenage girls in the eighties and nineties, I collected things in a glory box–a box for a woman’s clothes and household items, stored in preparation for marriage. Is the dictionary serious? There in black and white was the assumption that every female should be preparing for a future that includes marriage. I was led blindly down this path towards my life as a wife and mother.

I was taught how to sew things for my babies in High School Textiles. A subject I’m not even sure exists today. I was flooded with pride as I spent several weeks making a bunny baby cot quilt featuring a thick white frill around the edge. I also imagined holding and dressing my baby as I carefully fed pale pink dress fabric into the sewing machine. Being a girly girl myself, I never considered having boys. The whole process of collecting and planning evoked attachments to a time that seemed far away. Connecting me to babies I never birthed.

Society has subtle ways to coerce women into expected roles. After spending decades assuming my destiny would involve children, it’s no wonder I felt a sense of failure when I didn’t tick the ‘mother’ box. And what is the right length of time to hold on to these unused items? It’s not surprising I was a little sentimental when I handed over my treasures to my sister and friends in my mid-thirties. Everything but the quilt. I held onto that. Heaven knows why!

The full story of why I never became a mother is explained in my soon-to-be-published memoir, Where Have I Been All My Life? I understand why it’s so hard for woman in my–and previous generations–to comprehend my decision not to have children. They have been brainwashed too. Century old conditioning is ingrained in our cells.

My hope is that I am a role model for my nieces and other young women, showing them that unconventional life choices can also lead to fulfilment. I want women to decide on the life they truly want, without feeling pressured to follow the route trodden by most.

Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. If you want to hear more from me, please like my ‘Lisa Benson Author’ page on Facebook or follow me (lisabensonauthor) on Instagram.

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