Blame it on the year that will make me turn 30. Blame it on the wave of adorable tiny humans clogging my Instagram feed.
My seasons of struggle with singleness have so far been linked to a desire for companionship, but this new phase has taken an unexpected twist. In this novel chapter, I find my heart longing for motherhood.
I don’t think I’m alone. We tend to associate the pangs of unfulfilled desires for parenthood to childless couples, but singleness can offer its own version of infertility.
For those of us with convictions about waiting for the ideal situation of child-rearing in the context of a marriage, the options of passing our noses or tempers on to the next generation or participating in the beauty of adoption are, at least for now, off the table. And lately, I’ve had several conversations with 20-somethings of both genders who have a longing to be parents, sometimes more unrelenting than their desires for marriage.
In our age of “authenticity,” we hear more and more stories about couples who find themselves in the midst of figuring out how to become parents when the natural methods fail. GoFundMe pages request funds for adoption, surrogacy themes make for moving narratives and articles debate the ethics of in-vitro fertilization.
This variety of trial is starting to get much-needed attention due to people willing to be vulnerable about their stories, but what about those of us who feel optionless?
As with all yet-unfulfilled desires, we get an opportunity to lean on Jesus through the ache. Time with Him is never wasted. But are there other ways to at least temporarily calm our instinctive needs to parent?
Here are four suggestions and mindsets that I have found extremely helpful for my own soul on this road of living, for the time being, childless.
1. Hold all the babies.
I realize this is a temporary fix, but I’ve found it to be incredibly therapeutic. About a year ago, I became a bit burnt out on church and ministry commitments. When I spoke with my church’s leaders about pulling back to serve in different ways, I requested to just hold babies on Sundays for a while. Not only did it offer a way to serve parents who need that break to focus on worship and sermons, but baby therapy is real.
Want to at least temporarily soothe your need to hear contagious laughter of littles? Volunteer in your church’s nursery or babysit for a couple struggling to fit in a date night. The best part? After you are done snuggling roly-poly sweetness or improvising crazy bedtime stories, you get to give them back and enjoy the liberty of singleness a little longer.
2. Sponsor a child.
Think it’s hard for us single millennials to pay the bills sometimes? Well, keeping little ones happy, healthy and educated is no financial walk in the park either. What if we gave up a few macchiatos and In-N-Out runs each month to practice the fiscal aspect of parenting?
See if there are any needs in your local community. Save up and fund Christmas for a family in your area. See what kinds of financial needs there are for children in the foster care system. Contact Title 1 schools in your area to see how you can support before- or after-school programs.
Additionally, you could consider different ways to support children overseas. Programs like Compassion International allow children around the globe to be nourished, pursue an education and know God’s love.
3. Read parenting books.
On the topic of marriage, singles are advised to start preparing for marriage long before vows are exchanged. We are told to “attend marriage conferences, hang out with married couples who seem to have ‘til death do us part’ figured out, and read biblically-sound books about Solomon’s blush-inducing song!”
In the same way, parenting should be trained for long before the sleepless nights of newborn cries or the upgrade to a tricked-out minivan. I’m a firm believer that singleness is a crucial training ground for whatever future seasons hold.
You want to be good at parenting one day? Gold-medal parenting won’t happen overnight. Pick up a book about it. Ask parents at all stages what advice they would give to potential moms and dads. Whether you are blessed with biological or spiritual children one day, your quest for knowledge won’t be wasted.
4. Be a spiritual parent.
In the same way that marriage points to the greater reality of the Gospel, earthly parenthood points to the more permanent ties that we have as part of God’s family.
In the New Covenant, we are not guaranteed that our biological kids will follow Christ. Since regeneration through faith is the new mode of kingdom-growing, all Christians can—and should—be disciple-makers. In the grand scheme of things, we could end up with more spiritual kids than any of our married friends with biological kids.
Rachelle teaches at a high school outside of Vegas, but often gets mistaken for a student. She rambles about using singleness for the Kingdom at notsingledout.com and drinks coffee like water.