Mourn with Me for the Children I Will Never Have by “Tamar”
The following heartbreaking letter was translated from the original Hebrew version which was posted today on Ynet.
I am writing anonymously for professional reasons, but that’s not the only reason.
I am writing anonymously because I am someone whom it is difficult to look at, somebody bad. A woman who has not fulfilled her mission in life. A childless single woman who is Israeli, and furthermore, religious is muktseh, set apart out of disgust. I am someone who has something wrong with her.
I am writing anonymously, because I don’t want pitying looks, whispers, or an abundance of advice and suggestions.
Let me present myself: I am a woman, 41 years old, religious, and single. A woman who from early child wanted to get married and to be a mother. I’m an OK person who looks OK and has a job and depth. A woman who dated for over 20 years, who has had relationships with men, was in this and that kind of therapy, workshops, segulot, singles shabbatons, was in Uman twice, prayed Monday-Thursday-Monday by the Tsaddik, lived in the neighborhood where all the singles live, and it didn’t happen. I didn’t get married. And I didn’t give birth. And today I understand that chances are I won’t give birth. And that’s what I want to talk with you about.
As I wrote, from early childhood, I wanted to be a mother. I loved playing with my dolls as though they were my children. I saw my sister kept her various collections to pass on to her children (and in the end she did give them to her children) and I did the same thing. Already in adolescence, I began to choose names for my children. My highschool classmates will testify that one of my hobbies during boring classes was to find out what each classmate wanted to name her children, and at the end of the year, my desk was full of the lists of names of the children of my classmates. When I did national service, I spent Shabbats at host families, and began collecting adorable family traditions which I saw at the different families and planned to do the same when I had children. I continued doing this in the years that followed. And I began to choose names for my children. My taste changed and the names changes as the years passed.
And I waited for them, for my children.
The years passed and I reached my thirties, and then my mid-thirties, and I understood that the dream of 10 children would not be realized. I understood I would have less. I froze eggs. I reached almost 40 and then 40 and I understood that I would have fewer children, and that maybe I wouldn’t have children at all. And now I am 41, with no partner and without my children. And after a quick calculation, I understand that it seems I won’t ever know them. Never. My children.
Trust me that I checked and researched options. My friends became mothers on their own and I have an acquaintance who is raising a child together with someone she made an agreement with. I love and respect my friends and their children and their choices. But those choices aren’t for me. I don’t want to give birth to a child outside of a loving relationship, and I don’t want to raise a child alone. If that annoys you and you think that if that’s the way I feel then I have no right to talk, that’s OK. Just stop reading at this point.
But if you are willing to put up with the idea that I prefer not to go against myself, even though I want children terribly, then you can continue.
So, as I said, by a quick calculation, my children will never be.
I don’t want to talk here about the social stigma, about the tear-filled nights, about the worries for the future, about the loneliness, about the fact that I will not have a continuation of myself in the Jewish people.
I want to talk about my mourning.
For the last half a year, I am understanding more and more, that it’s not going to happen. I am trying to digest the knowledge, that my life will not be at all as I wanted and planned for them to be. And to cope with that, and to make peace with that, and to try to be happy with that, and to trust Hashem, and to give thanks for what I do have. And for what I don’t have. To believe together with what is lacking.
Over the last few days, I have come to understand that I need to say goodbye to my children. My children, who were inside of me since I was small, maybe since I was born. The children whom I thought up and looked forward to and missed them and dreamed of them, and who I worked so very, very hard to meet them one day, and they never came. Whom I never actually met, even though I know them for so many years.
I feel like they are dying now. One after another, so quickly. I feel that they are dying. But they have no grave or funeral or shivah. My secret 7 children are passing away without a sound, in complete silence, without anyone sitting shiva for them.
I assume that married women who wanted or want children and they don’t have or don’t have yet, will identify with me. But I think there is a difference.
Maybe I am mistaken, but it seems to me that married women who wanted and tried, and with great pain did not merit to have children, society can tolerate that. When there is a couple without children, people will usually feel sorry for them.
That’s not my situation. I am alone. I am saying goodbye to my children alone. Without a spouse. And most importantly, without a society which will allow me to mourn. I am expected to suffer silently, because I am such an insufferable sight. Because I am a distorted woman, who never married and never had children. Maybe not a woman at all. I am expected to manage with my mourning alone, to smile at the world, to function and keep going.
But every night my children are dying. Whom I waited for so eagerly. Whom I missed for at least 40 years.
So in order to survive I am writing to you. So that you will join my shiva.
Be with me when I say goodbye to Hoshaya, to Akiva, to Tama, to Maayan, to Neta and to many more, goodbye my cuties. How much I yearned to meet you. But it wasn’t possible. Maybe we will meet in another life. I will continue to miss you. Not meeting you will cause me pain until the day I die; maybe also after.
Thank you, readers, who were with me.
You don’t know who I am, but it doesn’t really matter. Because maybe I am writing for other women like me. Because maybe, when you see us now at work, at the supermarket, at shul, you will know that maybe at night, alone; we buried a child, we sat shiva, and you will be with us in your heart.