A Woman’s Right to Choose Motherhood (or not)

Do you have children? Why not? When do you plan on getting pregnant? Any baby fever, yet? Have your maternal instincts kicked in? How could you not want babies! You aren’t getting any younger, woman!

Have you ever felt your back against this wall? Feeling like your womanhood is being questioned? I think many women who hit 30 without children have experienced this inquisition.

More and more women are making a decision not to have kids. Nowadays, there is more liberty when discussing the topic. I commend women who own their truth.

During my 20’s, I developed a friendship with a co-worker who felt constant pressure in this area of her life. The candor in her attitude not to have children was criticized by family, friends, peers, even strangers. We rarely discussed the matter until it came up one evening over drinks.

We’ll call her “Audrey.” She had a good job, nice apartment and lived with her long time boyfriend. They enjoyed traveling together. Valuing the freedom to come and go as they pleased. My friend liked children. On a regular basis, visits from loved ones included kids running around in her place. She enjoyed playing games while entertaining the high energy bunch. Most of the women around her were already mothers which offered an opportunity to spend time with little ones in the picture.

Drinks were flowing that night. We were both in a great mood. There’s a certain comfort spending time with women that are not judgmental. She paused during our chat. Her silence was broken when she asked “Do you think I’m a bad person because I don’t want to have children?” The question was direct and sincere hinting from her posture leaning towards me to look at me closer in the eyes. My response was slightly obnoxious but I wanted her to feel the thunderous rejection in my words. “NO FREAKIN’ WAY GIRL!”

I believed it was Audrey’s choice whether or not to open herself up to the world of motherhood. There was no right or wrong answer. If women’s bodies were made solely to procreate then all women would have the ability to do so. There are plenty of women out in the world that physically cannot carry or conceive a child for various medical reasons. Some women’s bodies are not built to take on the task. Many of them suffering the reality of the news at a point in their lives. Heartbreaking for those that want a family.

Clearly, Audrey had been experiencing guilt for some time. I sensed both fear and relief when she posed her question. She was afraid to be called out by others who made a choice, now looking to impose their beliefs. It was an unfair burden to bring into her existence. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. Maybe, it’s part of this idea we have that everyone is supposed to live a uniform life. But each of us has their own path to follow. We should not be expected to have the same experiences as anyone else. Among the population as a whole, there will be those that see life very differently than we do. We need to be able to accept it, even when in disagreement.

Personally, I took my time deciding on a family. It was not black and white for me. There was a lot to consider before getting pregnant. Motherhood not only turns your world upside down. It changes you. You grow up learning about the things that make you an adult then you have to turn around to help mold someone else’s life. You are responsible for a life for at least 21 years. Newsflash! It’s not really 18 like they tell us. It actually never stops. I needed to make sure I was mostly ready to take on the responsibility whether or not my husband would be there. I’m thankful her father is very much a part of her life which is not the same for all.

There are people made for parenting, while others grow into the role. Both can make amazing parents creating a loving, supportive and brilliant life for a child or children. There is no question there are wonderful stories about parenthood. It’s important to also recognize the other stories. Romanticizing motherhood or parenting is a dangerous game. There is an ugly side to parenthood, watch nightly news enough times. Plenty of tales of misfortune. Dreadful tales about children at home. Situations that can brand them psychologically for years, or forever. Victims of the injustices of a world they were not asked to be brought into; someone made a choice to bring them into this place.

Being a mother has been the most amazing gift I’ve been granted. When the day has drained me of  emotional and physical energy, seeing my daughter’s face lifts my spirit. When I’m tired, uncertain if I can keep pushing because life gets too hard. Knowing I have her depending on me gives me the strength of 1000 men to keep fighting for a better tomorrow. Hearing the laughter out of the mouth of babes is like a sweet song that rings in my ear. Tucking her in at night, looking at her sweet face as she lays her head to sleep makes me remember why I do everything I do.

Motherhood is all these things but it’s also challenging, scary, and it takes every bit of you. Soon as you bring a child into the world – it’s all about their needs. You have to be prepared to be give unselfishly, be patient and understanding. In return, you receive the gift of unconditional love. Often not an even exchange but definitely worthwhile.

Motherhood is a choice not an obligation. Let’s support eachother and be accepting of a woman’s decision whatever hers might be tomorrow.

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