I never believed in the concept of a biological clock. I always resented the idea of it and believed it to be yet another derogatory term thrown at women to make us feel inadequate, desperate, and needy – similar to way that the term PMS (another concept I don’t believe in) has been used. However, my refusal to acknowledge its existence came to head almost immediately after I turned 30. I was newly single, fresh out of a long-term relationship, and with no prospects in sight. Not that I was looking. I enjoyed my return into singledom and although I joked about being “old”, I welcomed the new decade wholeheartedly. I’d never been so sure of who I was as a woman and what I wanted out of life. I knew I was entering quite possibly the best phase of my life, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that a different feeling also overcame me. I was 30, single, and childless.
I began to hear the ominous ticking of my biological clock six months after my entrance into club 30. It was last year’s Mother’s Day and as typical with every Mother’s Day, someone had absentmindedly wished me a happy one, as if my being a woman of a certain age automatically meant that I was a mother. My awkward yet polite rejection of this person’s expression of gratitude had triggered a feeling I had never before felt. All of sudden that day transitioned from one in which I celebrated how awesome a mother I had to one that reminded me how I was not returning that awesomeness to any children of my own. All I kept thinking was I’ll be 31 years old in six months; 31, single and childless. And now as this year’s Mother’s Day quickly approaches, the thought has popped into my mind yet again. Only this time I’ll be 32 in six months, still single and still very much childless.
I know. 32 is hardly old and although my clock is ticking away, I’m not too stressed about it. I would love to have children but I wouldn’t be devastated if it doesn’t happen. Still, I must admit that with each passing year, the ticks are getting louder and they’re usually the loudest around Mother’s Day. This year is certainly no different. So as Mother’s Day approaches, I thought about what a single, childless 30-something woman is supposed to do on a day that makes you feel a little alienated or perhaps even a bit inadequate.
I recently came across Savvy Auntie, a lifestyle brand solely dedicated for the childless yet maternal woman, either by circumstance or by choice. Its founder, Melanie Notkin, developed an acronym for these women called PANK, or Professional Aunt No Kids. Contrary to its name, PANK does not just refer to biological aunts, but is inclusive of all women who have chosen to participate in the lives of children who may or may not be of relation. While they are not mothers themselves, PANKS are nonetheless maternal in their love and care for the children in their lives. I immediately took on the title.
As I caroused through the Savvy Auntie’s website, I realized that being a PANK isn’t so bad. It surely has all the perks of being a mom without actually being one. PANKS deal with the fun stuff like my favorite: spending a day of sugar-filled fun with your favorite kiddies while mom deals with the not-so-fun stuff that happens when you return them home. Still there is no doubt that while being a PANK is great, there are also times when it can be difficult – including Mother’s Day.
Ironically, it was a childless woman named Anna Jarvis who founded Mother’s Day in the early 1900’s. Her idea of the day was not limited to celebrating women who had bore children, as it is today, but also to those who played the role of “mother” in whatever way allowed them. Stepmothers, godmothers, and aunts, like herself, were recognized. So in honor of Anna Jarvis, this Mother’s Day I will not only celebrate the awesomeness of mothers worldwide, I will also celebrate my fellow PANKS who deserve some love too, just as Anna envisioned.
Tamara Jenkins is a real Jersey girl. She’s independent, opinionated, and loves her sports. When she’s not watching her favorite teams, she’s reading, practicing yoga or working on a few books she hopes will get published one day. She also may or may not be training for a 5k race. With a belief that life is what you make of it, Tamara doesn’t merely want to survive life; she wants to live it.