Most little girls plan their weddings as children and dream of the day they will hold their precious newborn in their arms as they and the partner of their dreams become parents. Hell, we’re taught from a young age to be mothers by the numerous baby dolls and play kitchen sets we all had. I know women who’ve had their babies’ names chosen for years before ever getting married.
Maternal instincts are real. But, what happens if you’re a woman who’s never felt it?
I’ve never been able to picture myself as a mother, and to be honest this is partially what led to the dissolution of my first marriage after six years. It was no one’s fault, but I was not capable of giving him what he wanted to be happy. He has all of that now, and I am so glad he got all he wanted after I wasted that much of his time hoping I’d change my mind. There’s no shame in that. In no way am I implying that motherhood is unfulfilling, because it must be or why would so many people choose to do it?
Yes, many women have it all. Career, spouse, family, friends, and community engagement. In this day and age women are able to fulfill multiple roles in addition to being parents. But, there is a stigma surrounding women who are “childless by choice”. I am one of these women. I don’t fully understand why I don’t feel any type of maternal instinct, but I don’t. I only write this article in hopes that there are other women out there like me, who choose not to be mothers simply because they feel it’s not right for them.
When I see pregnancy announcements on social media, my instant reaction is to feel sick and nervous. Then I realize they are happy about this choice, and I try to identify. Most times, I can’t. I don’t hate children. I’ve worked with children and I hold degrees in education. Kids are fine, I mean they’re just tiny humans trying to have fun, you know? I see shared posts from friends who are moms, and to be honest, most of them horrify me. I’m not heartless; I have three pets that I love unconditionally so, there’s legitimately nothing wrong with my ability to care for others.
I don’t think I want to trade my sleep-filled weekends and freedom to do as I please only to devote no less than 18 years of my life to constantly cater to someone who relies on me to survive. That thought is terrifying. Sure, all new parents are scared. That comes with the unknown territory. But if my desire to raise a child doesn’t exist, why should someone judge me for not doing it? I would argue that parenthood is one decision a woman should be very sure about, because you cannot do it over. I don’t desire to do things with my life that I’m not passionate about, and I certainly don’t want that for other women.
People are constantly saying I’ll change my mind, or I don’t know what love is until I have a child, or what about all the women out there who can’t have children; how can I choose to waste my child-bearing years?
I don’t have great answers for these questions. All I have is my experience, and so far I’ve not changed my mind, I believe I do know what love is, and my heart breaks for women who struggle to conceive. It really does. Everyone deserves to see their dreams realized. I get the feeling people think I am a selfish waste of a woman when I share this personal fact about myself. Especially living in the south where many women become young mothers. Does wanting sleep and freedom make me selfish? Does wanting to be financially stable and happy make me selfish? Or, is that selfishness offset if I bring a child in to the world when I’m not fully invested in the idea of motherhood?
To me, selfishness is having a baby because I can, but not be fully invested. No child deserves that.
Yes, I did want a career to ensure I could take care of myself. That has required me to devote time and energy to school, networking, and job-hunting all while being single in the prime of my child-bearing years. Sometimes, on rare occasion, I will second-guess myself and ask if I’ve made the right choice. When this happens, I know it’s because of incongruence between what I want out of life and what my body is capable of doing. As I grow closer to the sun setting on my fertile years, panic does set in sometimes. But, I am able to remind myself that this is my choice, it’s what’s right for me, and just because societal norms place an expectation on my gender does not mean that I must choose to comply.
I worry about my ability to find a partner who can respect my stance on children, and because of this I’m more comfortable being single right now. Once I’m no longer of child-bearing age, I assume most potential partners will have already had their own children during a previous stage of life or are definitely alright with my choice by that time.
I also worry about my future sometimes; as in who is going to take care of me as I age. However, these fears do not constitute a choice to bring a child into the world. That would be selfish. So for now, I will focus on my career and on enjoying my life with all its twists and turns as I have been, and maybe there’s someone else out there like me who wants to commiserate. Any takers?