One of the most quoted verses in Scripture is when God tells Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to “be fruitful and multiply,” to procreate.
I’ve never really given that verse too much thought. Throughout my single adulthood I have honestly never yearned to be a mother. Not because I don’t value children; it was just never something that resonated with me. I had other goals in mind that would not have come to fruition were I to be a parent. And just between you and me, I’m not quite sure I have the temperament it takes to actively guide young people in the growth of their lives.
But I have been blessed with nieces and nephews who have been a big part of my life, and through them I have learned in some ways what it is like to nurture and help others grow.
Now that my childbearing years are coming to an end, I have to admit wondering if my life is somehow incomplete because I’ve never given birth to another human being. Truthfully, that same thought has crossed my mind at different times throughout my adulthood.
I look at people who have borne and raised children and wonder if they somehow know something I don’t. And if I’m honest with myself, they do.
But now I can accept that and not think my life is somehow shortchanged because I don’t know what it’s like to be a mother to a child.
In fact, as I reach my pre-menopausal years, I meditate more on the mystery of the woman’s womb and how it manifests in my life, though it might be considered “barren.”
Indeed, women, by design bring forth life in many ways.
And my life, though it has never borne children, has certainly borne fruit in ways unique to me.
Although I could look at this ending with sadness and regret, I choose to see the fecundity a woman’s womb bears throughout her whole lifetime.
When I look at women who have passed through that threshold and are in their later adult years, I often see greater and more creative fruitfulness in their lives than when they were younger.
While I’m not there yet and can only speak from what I’ve observed, I believe a woman in her post-menopausal years is more beautiful than when she was at her peak.
For now she bears a lifetime of wisdom, compassion, understanding – all incubated through the difficult times of life she has faced.
She doesn’t fret as much or wallow in anxiety. She trusts in a force larger than herself that has, in fact, been the Wisdom which has guided her throughout her life to this point.
And though her womb may no longer bear children, she is now free to create and bring forth the mystery of her own life, the unique story that she is, always has been and always will be.
While I do not look forward to the discomforts that accompany menopause, I am actually eager to enter this new phase of adulthood, to continue to bring forth creative and nurturing life from my womb, so that others in the world might learn and grow from my experience.
SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at firstname.lastname@example.org to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.