There are many posts recently defending the right of women to not having children.
There is even a book, Regretting Motherhood, by Orna Donath. Its overall idea presents mothers really loving their children -not that they want to send them back (not that they could, anyway); but somehow thinking that their life would be more enjoyable and fulfilled without them. I read it and what it says actually does make sense, I could empatise with these women’s points without judging them.
As an early-30s city girl (or should I say woman, at this stage), feminist, and daughter of nontraditional and divorced parents, I don’t think the pressure of having children is that stressing anymore.
In fact, quite the opposite. Sometimes I wish I could be one of these cool women who don’t want to have children. Why not? Because they value their time, their career, their travelling, their parties. Children can be seen as dragging, time-consuming wishes of boring, traditional, old-fashioned women.
To clarify, I’m not trying to have children (yet), but I guess what I’m claiming is that I don’t want to be tagged as uncool, boring, or less feminist for actually wanting to have children one day. Maybe these “tags” are only in my head but, considering myself a proud feminist, somehow I feel like a disappointment for actually wanting something as “boring and ordinary” such as being a mother.
Being raised in a rather non-traditional family structure, and definitely by a non-traditional mother, I’m aware that it could be my own experience what triggered my desire for a more traditional life plan – a mother, a father and a child (or two). There are no patriarch ghosts to fight for me because I didn’t suffer them growing up (thanks mum, I guess I should say!).
Then there are those 35ish women, who “never really thought about having children” but oopsie! Suddenly and “surprisingly” they got pregnant. Risking sounding like a miserable cow here, sorry but I don’t really believe it.
In my 8-year-long relationship, we know very well what to do to avoid a pregnancy, and it doesn’t even include pills or condoms. If a woman in her late 30s falls pregnant, that is generally due to a conscious action, or at least to a “being less careful” action, which is still a deliberate act.
Saying you were not looking for it but “it just happened”, can be true sometimes yes, but it is certainly not the rule; plus it can be misleading and hurtful to many other women who wish they could be pregnant too but cannot, even when they try.
I’d love to honestly say, “I don’t want to have children, I don’t really care, I don’t plan about it, let’s see, who knows, I never imagined myself as a mother, I’m too busy with my career, I just want to travel…“. But unfortunately, that would not be the real me.
I do imagine myself as a mother and would love to be one in the future. It could be my own inner critic talking here, but somehow it feels that it requires more courage to say “I want children” than to go with the new norm of “kids no please!“, risking coming across as less progressive or feminist because of it.
Another article read something like this: “Not because your body can make a baby it means you have to make one. Women who want children should have them, but women who don’t want children should not be pushed to have them”
Wait a second. I agree 100% with “Women who don’t want children should not be pushed to have them“, I don’t even find it empowering, I find it fair and common sense.
But what about “Women who want children should have them“? Well, that sounds very nice and reasonable, if only it was true.
The reality is that many women secretly (or not so secretly), do wish to become mothers, but unfortunately they can’t.
The reasons go beyond age or infertility. Maybe they don’t have a partner, maybe their partners cannot decide on having children, maybe they don’t want to be single mothers (not because they are not feminists, but because they want a father for their kids), maybe they wouldn’t mind being single mothers but can’t afford the treatment required, maybe they can afford the treatment but failed each try, maybe they tried adoption but were rejected…
There are many, many situations in which women’s hearts silently cry to become mothers, but cannot achieve that dream for reasons external to their bodies. A shout-out to them! You are cool, and feminists, and you will be amazing mamas if that happens for you 🙂
Great articles on this:
3 thoughts on “The uncool business of ‘wanting to have children’”
Totally agree on this! People just assume “oh no big deal youve got lots of time to have kids”, but what if you dont? For a whole pile of reasons, I’m nowhere near ready to have a baby NOW but I know eventually I really really do want one. Just terrifies me to think that when I finally get around to being “ready” it might not actually be a possibility.
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Hi Emma, 100% that’s the feeling how I understand it too… It is something not that important until suddenly it can become such a big deal! Xxx