Almost one-quarter of women in the western world will not have children. It is something I never considered a choice. I thought I would be a mother one day. I imagined I would have the urge and eventually do the ‘normal’ thing. Settle down, get a house with picket fence and children running around in the backyard. It didn’t happen for me that way, and when societal pressures made me feel for a short time that I should go down that path, my instinct responded with a very loud NO. We live happily in our small apartment, pursuing our creative careers, and at 35 I’m still waiting for the motherhood urge. It may arrive one day, but at this stage I think that it is highly unlikely. My husband’s opinion is pretty much on the “no” side, and I’m not cajoling someone into parenting just because ‘I might regret it later on.”
Women without children may not have them for a number of reasons, which are often beyond their control. They might meet someone in later life who has already had children, might not be able to, or may just not want to. Most of my girlfriends, welcome a frank conversation about the motherhood, and respect my decision. But some people have said some very strange things.
Here are some things not to say to women without children.
You will regret it later on
This statement is laced with the assumption that the person, (if they have in fact made a choice not to have children), will regret their decision later on. You might be right, and be well intended, because they might regret it, as we can regret any big decisions. But please keep this opinion to yourself. I sure have wanted to say to friends that they might regret some choices, like marrying XYZ after 17 break-ups, or having a baby with someone they just met, or quitting that ace job that they worked so hard to get. But I have kept my mouth shut and opted to support them, trusting that my friend knows what is best, for her.
Imagine if you told me you were pregnant, and my first response was “Why? I think you might regret this later!” Enough said.
I never knew real love until I gave birth
This makes me feel really sad for the person making this statement. What does this mean? That my life is loveless because I have not birthed offspring? That their life was loveless before they had a baby? That I’ve never experienced love with my husband, my family, my nieces and nephews? What a lonely, sad existence. I’m sure that motherhood is an intricate, amazing experience like no other in this world, where you make something that is a part of you. (Which I think is freaking amazing by the way.) By not having children, I acknowledge that I may never experience this. But statements like this negate the love that can be experienced in any relationship, and I’m not even mentioning the wonderful people who adopt and foster children.
Is their love worth less?
You would be a great mother
I would be an awesome mother. I would indeed. I’d love the kid to death, and be an organised laminating Tupperware type of parent. Of course The Ginger Hunk and I would go apeshit for a little human that was part Ginger Hunk, part Crazy Cat Lady. What an awesome human we could make. But this does not mean I have to, just because I can. I could also be an excellent yoga teacher if I gave up running, quit my day job, and joined an ashram. Be careful of saying statements like this to people who might be trying desperately to have a baby. How do you know that they do not want to be a mother and can’t? In that kind scenario, these kind of statements just sting.
Don’t you like kids?
I have met very few people who actually hate children. I love children. I just do not love them all the time. I love quiet time, silence, thinking time and sleep. Being spontaneous and having freedom is something we value greatly. Alone time is pretty important in maintaining my health and wellbeing as someone who is living with anxiety. I love spending time with the kids in my life. I bake my niece and nephew their birthday cake every year. I have them for sleep overs. I want to hear about your child’s milestones and the cute things they say. Take the Ginger Hunk to a party and you can guarantee in five minutes in the kids will be jumping all over him. Love them, just can’t eat a whole one.
Your love is wasted on your cats
The weirdest thing someone has said to me, was the just the other week that my love is ‘wasted’ on my cats. What the hell does this mean? Should I love my cats less because they are animals? Are animals less deserving of the love, care and respect we give to humans because they are only animals? I’d hate to live in your house if that is how you feel.
Any other weird statements that I am missing out on here?
PS. I don’t intend this to be a mother-bashing post, it’s a “how about we respect our own choices” post.