A blog buddy of mine over at Pure Geekery posted yesterday about the battle between those who are childfree and those who are parents. After writing a very long comment in response, I thought I’d write my own post about it. This is something I haven’t yet blogged about here, because it is 1) not at all book related, and 2) a very personal topic. To see the original post that Nicole wrote, check it out here.
I will not be having children. Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I am married. And, as far as I am aware, I am capable. But, I will not be having children.
I say I, instead of we, because while my husband fully supports my decision on this, it is my body, and ultimately my decision. It is also a decision that was made, for the most part, long before he came into the picture. I’ve known since I was able to say baby that I was just missing whatever that THING is that maternal women have to make them great mothers. That need, that drive. I don’t have it. When someone would hand me a doll, I would look at it with incomprehension. Playing house to me meant building it, organizing it. It certainly did not mean taking care of babies.
However, the older I got, the more I realized how different I was. The societal pressure to have children is a real thing. Mommies are everywhere in our culture. I grew up in a very small town where, for the most part, the goal was to get married and have children. Sure, there was college and career goals. But, for women, many of those career goals all cycled back around to having kids. I don’t say that to cheapen it. Don’t get me wrong here. I have absolutely nothing against mommies, and certainly nothing against working moms. Dude, those women are killer. But, it’s what I heard, over and over and over again. Graduate, go to college, find a husband, have babies.
Why didn’t I feel that way? I wanted to travel! I wanted to read every book in the library! I wanted to see things, do things. Kids just were never on the agenda. I struggled with it for years while I was trying to figure out who I was.
When I met my first husband, the pressure became real. Over and over again, babies were on the menu for conversation. Every family gathering, every social event.
Now that I’m married again, those questions come up again, but because we’ve been more open about our intentions with our families, thankfully it’s a little easier this time. The questions mostly come from strangers making small talk.
Those conversations usually go one of three ways.
1. On rare occasions, I find someone who actually gets it, says ok, moves on to something else. They may ask why, but usually in this instance it’s a nonissue. I love these people. There should be more of them.
2. The person says, “Oh, I bet you change your mind. Having babies is the most important thing.” These people I want to smack. Because it isn’t the most important thing, not to me. See above. I have a loving husband. I read, I love to travel. My life is AWESOME.
3. Flat out judgement. These are pretty rare too, thankfully. But I’ve experienced them. They think I am broken, damaged. Something is clearly wrong with me. These are the conversations that shake me, make me questions myself.
Now that I’ve told you all that, to address Nicole’s article. I agree with almost everything she said. I wish this was a much smaller issue than it is. I wish there was not such a big divide between the women who have children, and the women who don’t have children. I realize it hurts people outside of those of us who are able to actually make a choice in this matter. I don’t want that. I know too many people in my circle who have struggled, to ever intentionally hurt them. I wish that not having children was more socially acceptable so that women were not instantly asked the question, “Oh, when are you having children?” It would solve so many problems.
This is a very real, very personal issue for me. This is not a fake fight, not for me. There are many women in this world feeling the pressure to have children who know that it is not the right path for them. I have made my own choices. And I am absolutely happy in those decisions. But that does not mean that it hurts less to be judged sometimes. And if I am vocal about my choices, or stand up for what I believe in, it is so younger girls know that it’s ok to feel this way too. You can make decisions for your own mind and body. They are important decisions. Think hard on them, think long on them. Don’t take them lightly. But you do not have to do what everyone else is doing.