To all the brave women who are still having to defend their choice not to have children or get married – whether you are an undecided, a just not now, or a firm never ever:
For whatever reason a segment of our society still believes that 30 and 40-something year old women, single and no kids, is the biggest slipup of your adult life. I empathize because I am one of those women.
I have college degrees (yes three of them), landed a great career working for the U.S. Army, am known for my paintings as an artist, and pride myself for the advocacy work I do within the non-profit and mental health communities – all of which are considered part of the “major life events” category, are greeted with joy and happiness by friends and family, but they are not nearly at the same volume of jubilation as when you announce you are pregnant or engaged.
More recently, on a recurring, at least weekly basis (not counting the umpteen times in the past decade), women have pulled me aside confidentially or approached me in public with an almost dire-angst to get their comments across, asking me why I’m not married and why I don’t have children. Each time they leave virtually no room to respond, and in their own pinchy little way condescendingly remind me that life would be more fulfilling if I had a husband to take care of me and little humans frolicking about. Don’t even mention the word partner or same-sex anything, or having babies without being married – they would lose their minds. Don’t get me wrong, I am not always surrounded by people who seem to be judgmental, sexist, and homophobic – but it does seem that single and/or non-baby mamma women like myself attract these types because we have chosen to lead our lives in our own way – against the old school ‘norms’ and expectations.
Although it is truly none of their business – every time this happens, I take a moment to explain my reasoning (when I can finally get a word in) – because I think when we are judged by the choices that define our lives and how we view humanity – many of us simply feel discouraged, pissed off or helpless – but with only those emotions, perceptions don’t change – and with a little personal education and knowledge nugget sharing, we can begin an acceptance revolution in this arena. I realize times have shifted and non-married women with no children is more tolerable in the conservative world, but if I’m still experiencing life choice-blaming, I know so many others are too.
So, let me do this in a public way and hopefully give a voice to all you amazingly brave women out there who are done with ridicule and sometimes straight up belief-harassment. A husband/partner/lover doesn’t make a person whole and children don’t fill up an empty love reservoir – until there is a human who can lift me up instead of tear me down because they don’t like my independence, my free-spirit, or think I’m intimidating, or they simply are not authentic and honest – I want absolutely no business with any of that, and do not want them spending any time in my heart. Having a child is a gift, a gift that should never be pressured to take on, and is one of the most personal and private life-changing choices a woman will ever make – and the choice to not have children is just as personal and private – so this matter need not be discussed or determined by the pressures of a former society and how other women think you should live. I know feminism has become popularized, but I don’t preach feminism – I preach inner-growth, wellness, self-prospective, and love of humanity. We are all feminists, even you amazing men out there who make love a haven not a hazard.
I will never go on some man mission or procreate out of duty in lieu of desire. The bottom line is I make myself happy, I love myself very much, and although I will never give up on love, I also don’t plan to give up on me either – and I won’t alter my way of life to attract a little girl’s dream that I never had for myself. I did not grow up imagining my wedding day, or pick out names, and I don’t date people with an initial intention that this could lead to a forever something just because I am a 36-year old childless single woman. In fact, please just stop categorizing me as one of those – I am Monica, that is all I want to be.
So, for now, I am the best thing that ever happened to me, and I am grateful for myself every day. If authentic and graceful love wants to creep in, I will embrace it – but for all of you out there, especially women, you should never try and make someone believe they aren’t good enough alone. As my 83-year old grandmother always says, “I may be alone, but I am not lonely”, this coming from a woman born in the early 1930s, who has outlived two pretty beautiful 30-plus year marriages, a woman who found two loves of her life, a woman who by all accounts would be considered conventional and “old-school” – a woman who loves me for me, and would never sit in judgement of my life choices and defend her own for me to follow. And just like me, my grandmother is autonomous, free-spirited, and operates with an open heart.
I love my life at 36, I love where it’s going, and I love where it has been. I did not forget to have children or focus too much on my career or individuality – I am a possibilitarian – and will forever focus on my growth game and inspiring others to do the same.