There are two pieces about women's experiences not becoming a mom creating a stir online this week. One is Difference Maker by Meghan Daum, writing in The New Yorker:
When my husband and I married, we both saw ourselves as ambivalent about having children. Since then, aside from a brief interlude of semi-willingness, my ambivalence had slid into something more like opposition. Meanwhile, my husband’s ambivalence had slid into abstract desire. A marriage counsellor would surely advise a couple in such a situation to discuss the issue seriously and thoroughly, but, wrenching as it was to not be able to make my husband happy in this regard, it seemed to me that there was nothing to discuss. I didn’t want to be a mother; it was as simple as that.And the other is Kate Harding's piece I Am More Than OK With Not "Having It All" at Dame:
...it finally hit me that even if I did miss out on the greatest love you can possibly know as a human being, I was actually just fine with the amount I already had.In the discussion online, it seems like a lot of what I'll label the usual arguments start up between people without kids and people with kids: Women with kids are boring, dumb and raise children to behave like self-entitled wolves (otherwise known as the kid kicking the seat on the airplane while his mother reads trashy novels argument); women without kids are selfish, cruel and misguided (also known as the what's wrong with you argument). But beyond the drama, it's clear there's a lot of anger and hurt at the way women are judged for their reproductive choices. I don't think any of my friends and I have had similar arguments, whether parents or not, but I realized that it's actually entirely possible I have said something boneheaded and just not realized it. I think that because I feel kind of embroiled in the kids-spouse-work-life balance game every day, I have developed a type of tunnel vision. It's not so much that I care whether my friends have kids or not (I really don't, as long as they're happy, and I trust them to know what that might look like as much as any of us can). But because so many hours in my week go towards thinking about kids, I bet I have said some idiotic things. So here's what I have taken away this week as things to work on:
- making comments like "you would make a great mom!" can come across as both demeaning and weird (because you don't have to be a mom to be nice to kids)
- talking to our kids as if they are for sure going to have kids one day can really prevent them from talking to us about it later as adults
- sometimes the best response to a statement about any life choice is "hey, tell me more about it?"