Why am I expected to have children just because I’m a woman?

Broadside: Not all women are programmed with maternal instinct. Motherhood is not for me

‘The endless stereotypes about women include the myths that we all dream of nurturing a child; although this stereotype is accurate for some women, it is not for all’

‘The endless stereotypes about women include the myths that we all dream of nurturing a child; although this stereotype is accurate for some women, it is not for all’

 

I’m sitting at a table with a bunch of women and a couple of men. The conversation is about children: how many we hope to have, baby names, would we rather a boy or a girl?

It goes around in a circle and everyone is excited to answer these questions. When it’s my turn to answer, I’m not excited. I’m a 20 year old journalism student in my second year of college. My whole life is ahead of me. “So how many children do you want?” I respond “None”.

The whole room goes quiet and awkward, until someone chimes in, “You are young though, you will want them in the future”. The next person is asked the same question, he is a man, he also says he does not want children, but this time there is no awkward silence, they accept his answer and move on.

Perhaps most women do dream of having children and of becoming a mother, but the fact is I don’t. I want a career and I want that career to be my child, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Just because I don’t desire children does not make me selfish

Throughout my life, I have never wanted a child or fantasised about motherhood. It’s not what I want out of life. I salute to the women who dream of becoming a mother and giving birth, for having the strength to deal with breastfeeding and the constant care of another, more vulnerable being.

I empathise with women who want to be a mothers and can’t, but just because I don’t desire children does not make me selfish. Many female celebrities get pitied for having a child-free life by choice. Successful women who have chosen a child-free life that they have been shamed for and it has only made them stronger in their decision.

Jennifer Aniston lives a child-free life and refuses to be pitied for it. “I have worked too hard in this life and this career to be whittled down to a sad childless human,” she told Marie Claire magazine.

Oprah Winfrey also chose not to have children, saying, “If I had kids, my kids would hate me, because something in my life would have had to suffer, and it would probably have been them”.

Helen Mirren waited to have kids and it never happened: “It was not my destiny. I didn’t care what people thought. It was only boring old men who would ask me. And whenever they went, “What, no children? Well you better get on with it, old girl,’ I’d say ‘No! F**k off!”. Nice one, Helen.

When they detect reluctance, parents say things like “you have no idea what you are missing” but that doesn’t make sense. I see mothers everywhere and while I know it’s not the whole picture I get a clear sense of what it entails. Why would their lives change our minds? If we don’t want what we see on the outside, why would we want what we see on the inside?

From a very young age, I have never seen a child in my future. I don’t have a maternal bone in my body

The endless stereotypes about women include the myths that we all dream of nurturing a child; although this stereotype is accurate for some women, it is not for all. In fact, there are many men who also suit this stereotype.

From a very young age, I have never seen a child in my future. I don’t have a maternal bone in my body. I am going to college to get a degree to find a stimulating career path, one I do not want to give up or compromise on for a child. I shouldn’t be expected to want a child because I have a uterus.

There are many reasons I don’t want to be a parent. I never fully had a childhood myself having spent many of my early years looking after my autistic sister. To some degree, I have already experienced what being a mother is like and I can safely say it’s not for me.

Seeing a woman who is resolutely childfree seems to seems to give people licence to call women selfish, self-absorbed, and shallow

I also worry that my child might have special needs and that as a result I would not be able to live the life I imagine for myself. My ambition in life is to have a full-time career not to be a full-time carer.

Seeing a woman who is resolutely childfree seems to seems to give people licence to call women selfish, self-absorbed, and shallow. There are many reasons these women do not want children. Pregnancy itself takes a serious toll on a person’s life and it consumes the person. Fertility issues are often a reason as when faced with them, people can question the necessity of having kids.

Career ambitions can take priority and children do not fit into every lifestyle

There are a lot of expectations with having children: to be a perfect mother and to make perfect choices. Not everyone wants the pressure (I don’t). And not all women are programmed with maternal instinct. Career ambitions can take priority and children do not fit into every lifestyle.

I have my reasons, but reasons should not be necessary. I shouldn’t have to explain. Our choices about what we do with our bodies are deeply personal. We should stop pitying or putting down people who chose to have a child-free life.

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