Today this article popped up on my Facebook feed. (Yes, I know I have damaged my geek cred admitting to using Facebook.)
By the bullet points:
1. “You’ll regret it when you’re older.”
2. “You just haven’t found the right guy yet.”
3. “Choosing a childfree life is selfish.”
4 . “You’ll have a harder time finding someone who wants to be with you.”
5. “Who’s going to give me grandchildren?”
I don’t normally identify as a “feminist’ because I believe in equality, not female superiority which sadly the feminist movement is full of despite all claims to the contrary. Men and women are not defective for being their gender. Different is not bad. It’s often fun, interesting and sometimes even enlightening so long as people respect each other as human beings of equal validity.
But this article struck a chord because I am a woman who has decided to not have children and have encountered these arguments and accusations, even from other women.
I could go into the argument about the exploding population and dwindling global resources (which is totally valid), but the truth is when I was 16, I realized that having children was was a very tenuous “if” in my life. *If* I found someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with (which was always tenuous in and of itself, I take marriage *very* seriously) and *if* he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and *if* we both wanted kids and *if* we were in the right place financially. That’s a lot of “ifs,” too many to make plans around having family.
As I got older I realized that being emotionally in the right place was as much, if not more, important as finances. In a realistic evaluation of my character, I realized would be a crap mother. I had a crappy childhood and have issues connecting with people. I am self involved. I am bi-polar II. (And studies have shown the bi-polar women have a 25% chance of having a major episode during and after pregnancy, right when you should be bonding with your baby.)
And to be honest, I’m just not interested. At 42, I have never seen mommy-daddy-and-baby-makes-three and thought, I want that. I don’t see children or pictures of them or watch YouTube videos of them and desire to have one. I rarely even find them cute. (Though obviously for politeness’ sake I agree with the parents they are adorable.) I have five nephews. Still nothin’. And I like my life as it is. I don’t hate kids. I respect people for having them. That is an incredible responsibility to take on and I admire anyone who does so with care and conscientiousness.
I just don’t want one.
A few years ago, I went into my nurse practitioner and tried to talk to her about a tubal ligation. Immediately I got #1 and #2 arguments thrown in my face.
At 37, I think I knew what I want out of my life. And part of that is knowing that the right man for me does not want to have kids, or at least does not want to have any more kids. I’m aware my dating pool has a majority of divorcees who probably have already have children. So there is #4 dealt with too.
But she prattled on about how I didn’t know what I really wanted and that a man would change my mind.
Look bitch. I am an adult. This is my body, not any man’s. This is my life, not any man’s. Now shut up and tell me what I need to do before I shove that speculum down your throat. (No, I did not say that to her face, but I was thinking it really loud.)
I have also gotten the accusation of selfishness thrown at me. I have a friend whose mother has bi-polar disorder so badly she was refused adoption in the U.S.. She went to China and adopted three children and she has made those girls’ lives a living hell. Not all parents, but some, have children as accessories, or to have something to love them (the parent) unconditionally, or to trap a man into marriage, or when they can’t afford a child or are simply too immature and/or screwed up to care for them properly. The hundreds of thousands of children overcrowding our foster care system shows this. And for being self aware and not wanting to put another human being through hell, *I’m* selfish?
Fortunately, I have not has #5 thrown at me, thank for Gods for siblings, but it’s not our job to give up a significant portion of our lives to provide entertainment for our parents.
I remember my mother told me that when she had my little sister at age 40 in 1979, there were multiple complications with her birth that required a C-section to save my sister’s life. My mother asked the doctor, “While you are in there, can you just..*snip*snip*?” (She probably did not put it that way, but you get the drift.)
“I’m sorry, but we will need your husband’s permission to perform a tubal ligation.”
My mother said she almost stood up on the gurney to throttle him. Forty years old, four children, and she did not have any reproductive rights over her own body. That’s why I am pro-choice and pro-birth control: *That* is the end result of curtailing a women’s reproductive choices because a certain portion of American society still believes that women don’t know any better.
Hypocritically, the same portion of American society likes to blame rape victims for being raped. Women can’t be trusted to be responsible for our own bodies, but we are somehow responsible for what a rapist chooses to do with his (or hers, there are female rapists as well).