"I still remember how I felt the day my husband said he doesn't want to have children," said Anca Wass, the latest winner of TODAY's Everyone Has a Story contest. "It was also the day he killed the meaning of Mother's Day for me."
The 42-year-old Romanian native recalls changing her entire philosophy on life once she realized she wouldn't experience motherhood. Everything from career goals to relationships changed. During bad weather, co-workers left her to "hold the fort" as they picked up their kids; strangers showed little sympathy or understanding for her life choices; friendships suffered as old buddies only spoke of one subject – children. Although Anca shared her friends' joy and made a heartfelt effort to share their interests, she often felt that they took little time to understand her sorrow.
To avoid of feeling like a "shadow," Anca ultimately decided to pursue teaching and to a mentor a little boy, whom she calls her "salvation." But she still suffers the hardships shared by many childless women, who feel ignored or overlooked for their decisions. On TODAY, Anca further discussed her story with Hoda Kotb. Watch video
Learn about Ancas's journey by reading more from her winning essay:
I would have killed to get a mushy card that says "Happy Mother's Day!" I could not be the one of the celebrated women in America and America doesn't celebrate women in general. You have to have that special status: being a mother.
I never stopped loving children, but once I realized will never have children, my whole frame of mind had to change. People have very little understanding or sympathy for women like me. For example, if the weather is bad every single woman I work with is out the door to pick up her children. Women like me are always left behind to hold the fort. Who will wait for me, scared, because of the storm?
It almost feels like your life is not worth that much because if something were to go wrong there would be nobody behind left without a mother, as I am a childless woman. A childless woman is like a shadow - you may or may not notice it on the wall. It doesn't have a shape nor does it make a sound and it disappears in the night like it never existed. I remember the conversations around the water cooler. Women always talk about fashion or cooking until somebody starts talking about what her child.
You can have the knowledge of Einstein or have Newton's intelligence; nothing will deter a woman from talking about her child, while you, the childless woman, can hear yourself carrying your own conversation – talking to yourself, quiet, just an extension of the water cooler.
My lack of children made me lose some of my best friends. No, we did not argue and parted ways because we did not agree on who should be the next president of the United States. We suddenly had nothing in common, our two ways conversations became a one speech dedicated to the little bundle of joy they had. Their lives changed and so did our relationship. My contribution was a gift or just sitting on my chair and listening. We could not share emotions, thoughts, feelings, and advice.
There was no debate on the fashion front or life in general. The jury was out and the decision was made: nothing comes before the baby. I understood their joy but they never made an effort to understand my sorrow.
I decided to become a teacher and a mentor to a little boy and I now know this will be my salvation as I will be able to save and be saved.
I will be able to mold minds into becoming the best they can become while I can cheer their accomplishments from the bleachers while their mothers beam with the pride, rightfully deserving it.
So, you, all the childless women, please don't think your lives are
worthless. Find your own path to happiness, join the sisterhood of the traveling childless women, and celebrate the 8th of March, the International Women's Day, the day that celebrates women, even the childless ones.
Tune in to TODAY this Thursday for a musical performance inspired by Anca's essay.