As someone who has been tracking and writing about the childfree choice for some years now, I was delighted to hear Kim Cattrall speaking out about it recently on BBC radio. This is not the first time we have heard from her about her choice to have no children.
In an Oprah interview a few years ago, Kim said:
“..I try not to listen to the shoulds or coulds, and try to get beyond expectations, peer pressure, or trying to please—and just listen. I believe all the answers are ultimately within us. When I answered those questions regarding having children, I realized that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources, and I knew I wasn’t ready to take that step into motherhood.
Since then I’ve found other ways to fulfill my maternal instincts—when a young actress comes to me for advice about her career, or when I give a talk at a school, babysit my friends’ kids, or work with children’s charities or organizations. And even though I’m now married, my decision still stands.
My newest projects sometimes feel like my children. When my husband, Mark, and I wrote our book, the time, energy, and love we put into it felt very much like parenting. And when we finally dropped the book off at the publisher, it was as if we were taking our child to the first day of nursery school—we were so proud and so nervous.
Being a biological mother just isn’t part of my experience this time around. However, I am a mother who continues to give birth to ideas and ways of experiencing life that challenge the norm.”
Since that interview…
While she is no longer married, she remains childfree. In the BBC interview, she take her childfree experience further:
“I have young actors and actresses that I mentor, I have nieces and nephews that I am very close to so I think the thing that I find questionable about being childless or childfree is – are you really?
“There is a way to become a mother in this day and age that doesn’t include your name on the child’s birth certificate. You can express that maternal side very clearly, very strongly.”
Cattrall feels that although she may not be a biological parent, she is a parent. She admits that while she “didn’t change nappies,” in addition to mentoring, she has helped and been there for her niece and nephew in their lives. In her experience, “Those are very motherly things to do, very maternal things to do, very nurturing things to do, so I feel I am a mother of sorts.”
As The Independent coins it, she “considers herself a mother despite not having children.”
I have to admit, this idea gave me pause. To answer Cattrall’s question, as a childfree person, “Are you really?” I still say yes.
Those with no children can mother, to be sure. Notice I am using this word as a verb. Writers like Anne Lamont have written about the need to celebrate “mothering,” and all who mother, not just those who have children.
But when it comes to being childfree, I say “mother” used as a verb is not synonymous with “mother” used as a noun. “Expressing one’s maternal side” in the many ways the childfree do does not equate to giving birth and the 24/7 role of raising of a child.
Cattrall may say, “I just believe, and have always believed since my 40s, that there are many different ways to be a mum.” Maybe it’s the childfree and ‘wordsmither’ in me, but to me, as a childfree person, a mother I am not. But there are many ways I can mother.
Whether childfree or not, what do you think of Cattrall’s perspective?