Here’s what I think of your reasons not to have children. One word: Awesome.
I know I’m a “mommy blogger” and “mom” to four, so it’s my responsibility to help the world understand why motherhood is the highest calling any woman can have. Except motherhood has made me keenly aware that parenting is a valid choice for women in a long list of fulfilling, valid, and joyful choices.
I also recognize that you don’t need my support or permission to choose the life you’ve chosen. You don’t need my validation. Posts like this keep cropping up in my news feed, though, and a child-free life seems to be constantly on the defensive. In fact, I keep struggling with semantics in this post – I like to define life by what it is, not by what it isn’t. So, child-free or childless feel inadequate, but I don’t know an alternative.
While I considered the idea of never having children in my early twenties, I won’t pretend to know the uphill battle you face regularly by pushing against cultural norms and expectations. I can’t imagine being told that I am “not whole” or that “I don’t fully understand love” or that I’m selfish or that “I wouldn’t understand because I’m not a mother” or the 500 other cutting casual remarks people make about choosing not to have children.
I do know what it’s like to be asked if I “know how that happens” or where I keep all those children or if I’m going to be “fixed.” My pregnant belly has been public property and I’ve been admonished to “cherish every moment” in the midst of a mega toddler tantrum and told that a difficult day is satan trying to steal my motherhood. I’ve wanted to shout “My uterus is none of your business!” and I think you might understand.
Sometimes I’m envious of your choices. Some days I get caught up in the magic of motherhood and deliriously believe every woman should experience it. Sometimes I’m careless with my words and ask insensitive questions or make insulting generalizations. I am determined to be more aware of my missteps and unkindness. I want my daughters and sons to understand that life is filled with a myriad of good, valid, edifying choices. Your willingness to live your life unapologetic-ally is an important piece of that understanding.
Not having children is another dimension of Mommy Wars and I am determined to put down the weapons I’ve used – intentionally or unintentionally – to undermine your lifestyle.
- I won’t ask you when or if you plan to have kids.
- I won’t assume that you struggle with infertility .
- I won’t give you an “I told you so” look if you decide to have kids.
- I’ll “ooh” and “ah” over your “fur babies” without any qualifiers.
- I won’t force my baby on you, sure that he will be the one to help you see the light.
- I will include you in parenting conversations as a full participant, if you express interest.
- I will try my best not to talk to small children in the background while we’re conversing on the phone.
- I’ll redirect your mother-in-law when she makes a joke about wanting grand kids again.
- I won’t make our decisions a contest for whose doing it “right.”
- I’ll celebrate your milestones and commiserate in your struggles.
- I won’t judge if you express sadness or regret about any of your choices because I have them too.
What other Mommy Wars weapons am I using? How can I recognize my motherhood cultural privilege? Feel free to share your thoughts, link an article, or tell me it’s my job to do my own research.