It baffles me slightly that it’s 2012 and I feel compelled to write this blog post. We, as a society, have come so far through so much, and some would argue we have lost a lot along the way. Genders, sexual orientations and races continue to fight for their freedom to be themselves while traditionalists and religious fundamentalists fight to maintain their strongholds in North America. It’s a nasty, neverending, almost cyclical debate and quite frankly, I have no interest in making this about a political agenda because it most certainly isn’t. What I want to say is: It’s 2012, I’m 25, and I don’t (think) I want to have kids.
We live in an age wherein 30 is the new 20 (so 25 must be the new 15) and more often than not, adults are getting married and having families later in life than ever before. Long gone is the nuclear family comprised of Ma, Pa and 2.5 kids. In our modern era, families can consist of gay or lesbian parents, adopted children, single teenage “reality” star parents, 21 kids and counting and so on. Everyone has different views on what an “appropriate” family is and who should be allowed to consider themselves as such. I don’t agree with every religious or political view and I don’t expect everyone to agree with mine. Yet while many individuals continue to gain acceptance among small social circles at the very least, there is one type of woman who feels as though she must defend herself to everyone: the unmarried, childless woman.
I’m sure many single, childless, lesbian women have to defend themselves to many people and in no way do I aim to belittle their valiant effort. Sadly still in our modern era, absolutely everyone seems to question the vendetta of the single, childless, heterosexual woman.
When someone meets a childless lesbian, they often presume she hasn’t had children because of a political stance or the lack of a maternal desire. There could be a myriad of reasons why she is single or childless but those who don’t understand homosexuality don’t begin to dissect why she is childless as well. When someone meets a childless heterosexual woman in her mid-20s, if she is unattractive, most people presume no one has taken interest in her. It’s sad, but it’s just the cold, hard truth. What perplexes people most often is when they encounter a beautiful, charming, intelligent woman who is unmarried and childless simply because she chooses to be. Almost no one believes that could be true and their immediate inclination is to be sympathetic toward her - doesn’t she want a man? Doesn’t she feel empty and lonely? Isn’t her life incomplete?
The reaction most common when I tell people that I’m single is, “Don’t worry. You’ll find the right one.” Well, that’s fine and dandy but I didn’t realize I was supposed to be looking for said mystery man. I’ve never had issues meeting people or getting dates, and I’ve never cried or fretted over the absense of them. I enjoy my time alone - I can come and go as I please, I answer to no one and the world is my oyster. I can literally seize any opportunity because the only person holding me back is me. Dating, to me, is like ordering from a menu - I could commit to French, Asian or Old-English, but I quite enjoy the sampler!
Worse yet is when the topic of children come into conversation. Let me preface this by saying that I have 14 nieces and nephews that are beautiful, hilarious and adorable and I love them very much - but I am content to enjoy their company and return them to their parents at day’s end. The reason being is that - brace yourself - I don’t (think) I want children. It’s sad that I worry about the admission of such a statement, that many I know have now begun collecting stories and statistics to attack my personal opinion and that men who were interested in me may not be any longer because I won’t be the woman to give them the family they’d like one day.
The truth is that I have never felt that maternal instinct. I am a Christmas-loving, dress-wearing, feminine traditionalist in so many ways but I just don’t have that inner mom waiting to emerge. I have loved cats, I have loved boyfriends, and I have even cared for my teenage employees when I was a retail manager but I just don’t have that je ne sais quoi that makes a woman a motherly type. How else can I put it? When I hear babies cry, it triggers annoyance, not sympathy. When I try to picture myself having a child, I see myself standing in the corner at their birthday parties, crying into my wine bottle. In no way does that make me less mature or somehow inadequate, it’s just one of the many idiosyncrasies that makes me Missy Deyo.
People often argue that we are designed to procreate and that from the days of knuckle-dragging neanderthals up until the last few decades, it was a role that most women dutifully fulfilled as expected. However, this is 2012 and women are no longer obligated to do anything and are free to think for themselves. There are countless reasons why a woman may not be inclined to reproduce. Perhaps, like me, her body is not likely to conceive, or her health isn’t strong enough to ensure a successful pregnancy or healthy child. Maybe she has physical or emotional predispositions, or demons from her own childhood to fight off. Some women are so focused on their careers that they don’t believe they could balance both family and work without one or the other suffering greatly. It’s possible that she worries too much for the future and believes that our world is in a disparaging state of economic, social and political turmoil. Or maybe, her reasons are none of your business.
Every woman must ask herself at some point in her life: to Mommy or not? And it is a question not to be taken lightly that only she can answer. Frankly, any person who dares to be sexually active needs to first consider what they would do should a pregnancy occur, otherwise having sex is extremely irresponsible. But along with deciding whether or not she’ll ever be a parent, every woman must be mature enough to allow that answer to evolve over time. That is precisely why I said I don’t (think) I’ll want children - because although I’ve spent the last 25 years feeling certain of my position, it’s possible that ten years down the road I’ll feel the urge to obey the biological clock that my sister-in-law swears exists within me.
Regardless of your stance, others are entitled to theirs and you aren’t entitled to throw stones at anyone just for disagreeing with you. Mothers need not feel defensive while reading this article as I’ve not once suggested that mothering is the wrong choice, only that it is the wrong choice for some. With that said, for those women who desperately wish to have their own children but cannot conceive, I would give anything to change your circumstances and I am so sorry for your struggle.
Personally, I am so thrilled for my sister who, along with her husband are soon to welcome their fourth child into the world (though one was lost in a miscarriage), because she is an amazing mother. Having lived with her family through an entire pregnancy while she chased after a toddler and ran a daycare, I can honestly say I give mothers all the credit in the world. It truly is the most selfless, thankless, exhausting and yet rewarding job in the world. But some of us are not cut out for that job. And isn’t it better for a woman to be honest about her desire to remain childless rather than feel pressured into motherhood and become a horrible, resentful parent? Perhaps some of those women that we hear of who drove their minivans off bridges were women who tried to please social convention and wound up trapped in a nightmare … not that it condones their actions.
Being a mother is a fabulous thing, but being willfully husbandless and childless does not equate to loveless. It just means some women are living out their dreams on their terms, and they shouldn’t have to defend themselves.
- Missy Deyo
@miss_deyo on Twitter