I am a teacher’s assistant in a first grade classroom. I started as a volunteer years ago, and then became an employee. I love what I do, working with young children and helping them on their journey to learn how to read, to add and subtract. I am there when they cry (literally) out of frustration, and there when they accomplish something new to cheer right along with them.
This week I was having a conversation with a teacher about the Head Teacher (HT) in one of the classrooms. HT is 53 and never married and has no children. HT is not the warm and fuzzy type, and often speaks to her students in what I consider to be a gruff and unfeeling manner. The teacher I was speaking with was talking about this, and said, “well she has no children, so she has no maternal instinct and it makes sense.” Immediately after those words left her mouth, this teacher realized I too, have no children and began to apologize profusely. It made me question exactly how “maternal instinct” and being a compassionate and nurturing person are entwined with one another. Or not.
I chose not to have children, and I wrote about it here last Mother’s Day. I consider myself to be an empathetic, compassionate, nurturing, person. That is just how I am. I have been this way since childhood. Having no desire to have children did not make me any less so. Having a nature with these ingredients may have made for being a good mother, if you didn’t take into account the other parts of my personality which would not have been. (lack of patience, fear, nervousness, to name a few) But does having children automatically make a person acquire maternal instinct? Does not having them mean you are incapable of understanding them?
The HT has been teaching for over 30 years, but I believe her nature is just not a nurturing and empathetic one. It has nothing to do with her not having children, it is just who she is, how she is wired, how she has always been. Her strength lies in her being a good educator, able to disseminate information in a clear and concise manner. Would she have become more “maternal” if she had children of her own? Maybe. Maybe not.
It pains me to think I would be thought of as not having “maternal instinct” based on my not having children. Take in the whole person before you judge or categorize, look at the person and think about who they are before assigning them labels.