My sister turns to her friend Amber after observing how her children have taken an immediate liking to me. We are all out at Venice Beach enjoying the sun and a bike ride. My niece, nephew and Amber’s two kids follow me like I’m the pied piper. Not to brag, but I seem to have that effect on children. They gravitate towards me and it is this gravitational pull that has lead so many to believe I must want a whole passel of children. I don’t. I don’t want even one…or half of one.
So when my sister says this I wait for the inevitable: the fish like gasping, the widening of eyes and overly dramatic clutching of the heart in shock and horror that a young, unmarried and healthy woman could possibly not want kids. Apparently voluntarily childlessness is still seen as shocking and risqué. But in a welcome flip of the tables Amber does not react so predictably. She shrugs and merely replies it is better I know now than after actually having had children. I want to hug her. I want to kiss her. I don’t but I’m pretty sure I have rather maniacal grin on my face I’m so pleased.
Usually I have to endure invasive questions from relative strangers about my reasons why, my dating history and what I’m looking for in my future husband followed by quotes from the same insipid book on how to save potential old maids they all seem to have read: The mystery man who broke my heart (he doesn’t exist by the way) and turned me into a bitter cow isn’t worth it and I really shouldn’t be so picky and should lower my expectations because I don’t want to wait too long but none of that matters anyway because I’ll change my mind when my biological clock explodes and I’m hit with the uncontrollable urge to repopulate the earth because every woman wants kid and you need someone to take care of you when you’re old.
Never mind the fact that giving birth to a human being for the sole purpose of having them change you. Depends when you’re old seems incredibly selfish. I have simply never understood the public claim on a woman’s uterus and the ease with which we are told we must not only marry but procreate. That we are somehow less of a woman by not being mothers and that the pinnacle of womanhood is child bearing. Such directives are not only insensitive but dangerous. Why force a woman who is not emotionally, financially and spiritually ready into motherhood? And while I never want to join the ranks becoming a mother is a massive undertaking for which I have immense respect. The idea that motherhood is for everyone perpetuates the harmful idea that having a child is some sort of cure-all and that you will fall into the roll with ease and nary a hiccup.
In reality, motherhood is not for the faint of heart and the personal choice to abstain is just that, personal and should not be the subject of public debate. So if you are one of the well intentioned attempting to steer some young woman towards motherhood please stop. Stop hinting, stop joking and stop asking because you are not entitled to her reasons why.