A FB “friend” posted an article about being childless.
The FB article said it would address our misconceptions (okay maybe not the word it used), okay it said assumptions about why women do not have children and the stereotypes of childless women.
I think the reverse is also often true. There are false assumptions about why women get pregnant and stereotypes about what motherhood is.
I never wanted children. I had children because I got pregnant.
I was unable to take hormones, such as the pill, for medical reasons. And let’s face it, who wants to use a condom in a committed, monogamous relationship? I hate the smell of rubber and latex and I react to it in ways I won’t go into.
My gyno actually said having a child would clear out my uterus; I was having multiple false positives to Pap smears.
I was in love and pretty sure I had found a man I would spend my life with. So there was no way I would have an abortion. Hey, we had a solid income and a home. There were worse things that could happen.
If I’d been able to take the pill, I probably wouldn’t have had children for a very long time as it’s never the right time. My studies. My career. Our relationship. A mortgage. My travels.
Three years after my first, I had my second child for the same reason as my first. I had sex and in the moment of passion didn’t care about the very unreliable method of contraception we were using. I got pregnant. I still couldn’t take the pill. No one would prescribe it for me as I had had a blood clot which caused temporary blindness and still affects my vision.
I remember a sexist, pompous prig of a single man with whom I worked saying, “I didn’t think anyone had unplanned pregnancies anymore!”
Spoken like someone who was single, had limited knowledge of women’s bodies, and didn’t understand, or have, sex drive. Or no one who wanted to have sex with him.
So there was no burning desire within me, no plan, to have children. And I wasn’t particularly maternal. I still largely am not with other people’s babies. I never saw myself with a house in the suburbs and kids in the yard.
But I was a god damn great mother once they came along. Yes, there were moments that I hated it, moments that I wanted out, moments of utter boredom.
But I’m so glad I fell pregnant twice. So glad the decision was taken out of my hands.
Yes, without children my mortgage would have been paid off. We’d have travelled more. We’d have had more dinners and nights out. I might have finished my masters.
But that’s more of the same-same. Really big woop if we got to go to more restaurants, to more expensive places. Big woop if our mortgage was now gone.
We would have missed out on the pure love of a baby and toddler; sharing the wonderment and joy of learning and experiencing the world through a child’s eyes; creating the magic of Christmas and Easter bunny; the palpable love between brothers. (Look at photo below. Can you see the pride and awe in The Dreamer’s face at the cleverness and skill of his older brother?)
I would have missed out on my boys thinking I was truely awesome and amazing because I could make an ugly, wonky brown caterpillar cake that adults saw as ugly and wonky but they saw as cool; and my boys thinking I was truely skilled because I could sew on a button. No one else would think that. No one else would share my view of myself as incredibly clever.
And I got to experience the joy of silly games and play and uncontrollable laughter.
My relationship with my boys is changing as they reach adulthood and become more independent. (Well as much as millenials can be.) I get to go to stand up comedy shows with my son who shares my sense of humour, which is brilliant as my husband hates comedy shows. I get to learn current slang terms and social media changes and what is happening in my neighbourhood because of my connected son. We go to concerts together. We have political discussions. We enjoy each other’s company.
I never wanted children. I never planned to get pregnant. I wasn’t maternal. I didn’t plan to be a family in the ‘burbs. But I don’t resent that sliding door opening. And that it did, it is not the sum totality of my identity. You don’t have to give up career and travel and studies and love and “lifestyle” when you have kids.
I know there’s many who can’t get pregnant, who struggle conceiving a child, who have all many of heart-wrenching conditions which don’t let the baby go to full-term. My heart goes out to them.
And I know people don’t have children by choice for many, many reasons. For these people, just as you may not want others to make assumptions about your choice, don’t make assumptions about what I may or may not be thinking about your choice, even to thinking that I might be making assumptions. I don’t think all women should or want to have children.
And if I now think work and travel, and not being comfortable around babies (god sake you can learn) and not feeling maternal are shit reasons not to have kids, well listing these reasons in an article, especially when the person quoted is in their 20s, is not going to convince me of the logic and validity of the arguments. But I also think my view is as irrelevant to someone’s childfree-by-choice decisions as their view is on what they think I am thinking of their childfree status from my status as a “breeder”.
Comment or not, as you wish.