I’ve gotten over 2,000 comments to my recent post about looking down on young women with husbands and kids so I thought I’d clear up a few points.
The vast majority of the criticism is along the lines of “how dare you, you don’t know what it means to be a mother, I work harder than you’ll ever know.” Of course being a mother is hard work. I don’t think mothering is an easy task. However, is a task worthwhile just because it is difficult? I bet Sisyphus felt rolling that rock up the hill was a pretty difficult, 24/7 job, but that doesn’t have anything to do with whether it’s good or bad. “Hard” is value neutral.
In fact, in our culture we value innovation that helps us get past hard work. The internet, for example, makes lots of stuff easy. Hiring someone to do your laundry or clean your house is an efficient way to outsource “hard” tasks so that you can free up your time to do more valuable things.
Someone brought up Beyonce and how she is so successful with a child. Do I look down on her? Of course not, she is massively successful. She has the resources to have a child without slowing her life down. She can have nannies to help her with her kid while she works and managers that deal with the things that normally a wife would get saddled with. That’s definitely a woman worth looking up to. She didn’t drop her dreams for a family, she made her family part of her dreams.
If a woman TRULY has no ambitions other to be a great mother and raise her kids, I was too harsh. But I don’t think most women make this choice freely, so a little harshness might get the ball rolling.
I can’t help but think of my own life and how easy it would have been to morph into that role and I chose to chase my dreams instead. This is my own experience, so I can’t help but think there are lots of other women who felt compelled to fill that role whether or not that’s what they really wanted. Not questioning their social role feels weak to me, and it’s hard not to look down on someone you think is weak.
The second reason is that so many of the responses talked about me being lonely. I don’t get lonely because I love my life. I’ve worked through the childish “needing other people to make me happy” thing. My mother and sister can’t be without their husbands for a day. One day. They don’t have an identity outside of being a wife. So many comments echoed this, that I’ll “die alone” while they will “never be alone” because they have kids. This sense of needing to not be alone, so much so that you surround yourself with family just to not be alone, I wonder what you are running away from. What is so bad about being alone with your thoughts?
There’s a quote by Anais Nin that I adore, “How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.”
I am creating the world that I want, rather than filling it up with kids who love me so that I don’t have to be alone. I’m not letting a man or a family create a life for me. I think this takes a lot of strength. There’s no extraneous noise to fill the void, you have to work on yourself and find what makes you satisfied in your life. There is no distraction to keep you from knowing if there is something that isn’t right in your life, and then fixing it.