With all this stuff about motherhood, babies, child-rearing, happy-homemaking and such on LAF, I sometimes wonder, “What’s in it for me?” I know that might sound extraordinarily selfish, but sometimes I do wonder what a single, childless woman has to do with biblical womanhood.
For those of you who don’t know my story (almost all of you, I’d guess), I turned 50 this spring. I have never married, had no babies, and last year I had a radical hysterectomy. I know far too many hysterectomies are done in this country but, believe me, I’m in the medical field, and when my surgeon called to read me the pathology results, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had done the right thing.
So, there it is. There will be no surprise late marriage and Sarah-like pregnancy for me. And yet, about a year before that surgery, a pastor and dear brother in the faith looked me in the eye and told me, “Don’t die without having been a mother.” He knew nothing of my “female problems,” of course, but I have been pondering that plea of his off and on since that day.First, I want to assure all us Maiden Aunts that there is nothing deficient in our womanhood or femininity because we aren’t altering clothes for the next child down the line or cooking meals for 12 every night of the week. Being a woman–being feminine–is who you are; what God created you to be. Because we live in a fallen world where nothing is perfect (not even those families that look awfully close to it on the outside) and where families are still a good and rightful priority, we may have to work at some things a bit harder. For me, this means that, even though I live in Colorado, the only “jeans” I own are the black ones I wear to work as a substitute for scrubs. I haven’t slipped into a nice pair of denims in about year — and I love wearing skirts all the time now. I have long hair and get pedicures whenever I can afford them. For everyone, enjoying being a girl will look a bit different, but it is something those of us who are supporting ourselves need to be conscious of working at. We do this because we don’t have those obvious reminders such as babies and husbands, and it is too easy for those of us who go to work five days a week to forget that we are girls and not simply “one of the guys.”
I’ll let you in on a secret here – when you embrace your girlyness, when you celebrate it by looking like a woman and acting like a woman, it’s amazing the difference you’ll notice in the way men treat you. It’s rather nice.
But about that advice from my dear brother. I’m not a mother and will never bear children of my own. So how can I be a mother? Thinking about that is when I came up with the idea of “embracing your inner Maiden Aunt.” Some of us, in our fractured and mobile society, aren’t close to family, so we will find our family in our church. Whether it is a covenant of blood or faith, we can all be part of the family and embrace our Auntishness.
Come alongside your sisters, cousins, and friends from church. Get to know them. Keep an eye out, especially for the ones who are struggling. Bring a meal over, offer to help with the laundry or cleaning. Spend the day with her, preparing meals ahead to be frozen.
I grew up living not too far from my own maiden aunt, who happened to be a school teacher. She encouraged my writing (something I’ve neglected for far too many years) and occasionally took me out for the day to some local historic site where she worked as a tour guide in the summer. You can do this as well. You can take the kids out to the zoo for the day, take them to a woodsy park for a hike and a picnic. What sister and her children wouldn’t love you for it?
I haven’t used the word, but you may recognize what I’m writing about here is a mentor. Our maiden aunts have always been mothers of a sort on the mission field, but we forget about the mission field in our own families and churches. We sometimes forget about the mom who could use some “down time” or the mom who is struggling because she never learned how to be a mother from her mother.
The mission field is all around you, crying out for you to embrace your Inner Maiden Aunt.