My Primary Setting Is Not ‘Mother’

The following article is coming from a personal place, as I do not speak for any other woman but myself. However, if a fellow woman relates to any part of the text below, feel free to share, quote, paraphrase or print and hang the piece on your door, how ever you want it!

In the spirit of the new, progressive and ever more open-minded year 2018 (fingers crossed), I am opening up this can of worms once again. That can holds within it the discussion about a woman’s right to choose whether to have children or not. You might think we have come a long way from times when women’s life goal was to mother as many children as possible, but as long as there is a heated public conversation, blaming and pointing fingers, and legislators feeling justified to rule over what women are meant to do with their reproductive organs, I personally feel this topic demands attention. And if the last sentence made you scratch your head, googling pro- life vs. pro-choice is in order before continuing reading.

So imagine a situation where a friend tells you they wish to have children, and you respond by saying “Sweetie you’re still young, you’ll change your mind!” Turn the tables around and this is the conversation I am subjected to, if I dare to speak my mind about my personal reproductive plans, or rather the lack of them. It is lurking everywhere I go these days. The possibility of someone telling me to put my womb to good use. It might happen with a new or an old group of people, at school, work or on my time off. There is always someone who seems to know better what I ought to do with my lady parts. Do not get me wrong, I do not go around town shouting “children are horrible, do not put them in my belly!” but having reached the lovely age of 25 brings with it responsibilities such as having heated discussions, sometimes with complete strangers, whether I need to create life with a man of my dreams or not.

To shed light on the absurdity of this conversation, here is a list of top 3 comments I have been told by mothers during the past year:

 

  1. Enjoy your time now, for these are your final free years!
  2. You haven’t really lived until you have children…
  3. The most selfish thing a woman can do is not to have children! 

 

As a balance, I was thinking about listing things mothers have told me when they have been at the dark pit of parenthood, when children are misbehaving and husbands are of no help, but figured it would not serve anyone. I understand that all parents wish they could from time to time just drop their kids off at the airport and drive away. And believe me, I have heard even more colourful descriptions from parents! They get admirably creative and descriptive when kids are driving them up the wall!

Personally, I have known for a long time that being a mother is not a dream of mine. The idea of pregnancy has felt odd to me since I can remember. I was 4 years old when my mother was expecting my little sister and I remember vividly asking her how weird it was to have another living thing growing inside her. My mother, to whom motherhood has always felt natural, replied that it is the most incredible feeling in the world. While I admired that, I could not, nor can I now, relate.

I might of course change my mind along the way, and I am entitled to do so. I realise that speaking about this publicly means there is a chance I will be faced with ‘I told you so-ers’ as I walk down the street with a belly size of a pumpkin and that certain ‘glow’ about me. However, I would like to ask everyone to use the same kind of courtesy they would apply in a situation where they run into a childless person who thirty years ago said they want to have a large family. You would not point your finger and laugh, would you?

 

You heartless robot

It is important to understand that I do not hate children. Unless I have just spent three hours strapped down to the same airplane as little Tim, who thinks it is the best kind of entertainment to kick my seat and throw peanuts at me. Then yes, I have to admit, I will seriously consider crossing my legs for all of eternity and putting up a ‘closed’ sign, as well as starting a furious peanut fight with that little fruit of your loins. Because fight fire with fire, right?

The reason I want to point out that I actually like children, especially the ones in my social circle, is because most parents who hear I do not want to have children take it as a personal insult. They see me as a child-hating cold robot. By saying that I want to have a different lifestyle from theirs, parents often assume I judge their choices. I do not. I have heaps of respect and admiration for anyone who brings up children, and does a good job of it! My mother was a stay-at-home-mom for three children, giving up her career in the process. For her, being a mother has always felt natural and fulfilling. However, while I can respect that, I already know I will have to get my kicks somewhere else in life.

This is not a fact I get to simply tell others, I also need to explain and justify. The greatest realisation one could make after reading this text, is that each time you make a woman justify decisions she makes regarding her own body and life, you are in the wrong. It might seem harmless to ogle at the lady who only wants fulfilment in her life from travelling, fulfilling career, active social life, amazing friends and great lovers, but unless you are coming from a place of kindness and genuine interest about her life, you have no right to judge or suggest she does not know what she is talking about.

 

The way I’m wired

This is not a conversation about either or, picking one or the other, nor is it a conversation about giving up anything. A woman can be all of the things mentioned above as well as a mother. However, a woman can also feel satisfied with her life without children, and she does not have to justify to anyone. Some women simply do not want to have children. If thinking about that annoys or irritates you, then ask yourself why. Are the feelings based on your values, your view of women, what you perceive as normal, jealousy or something else?

This is not a glitch in my system, we are all just wired in a different way. I am not the one to usually make New Year’s resolutions, but I urge us all to make one - to think before we speak. Your truth is not the only right one. And today, in the year 2018, I think it is about time we start accepting the fact that women have more roles to play than the ones you dreamt of.

Picture/GIF by Pinja Oja