“Chosen motherhood is the real liberation. The choice to have a child makes the whole experience of motherhood different, and the choice to be generative in other ways can at last be made, and is being made by many women now, without guilt.”
― Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
I am pro-birth control and pro-choice for many reasons, but a personal one is because I don’t want to be a mom.
I think that sentence should be the beginning, middle, and end of this post, but in our society it seems that simply not wanting to be a mom isn’t a good enough reason.
Anti-choice activists are constantly trying to qualify access to abortion for cases of rape and incest. Some are even anti-choice in those cases. To simply say, “I want the option to have an abortion because I don’t want to have kids” can be seen as akin devil worship.
Furthermore, the wideheld belief seems to still be that motherhood is the best job a woman can have. How could someone really choose to opt out of such a fulfilling life experience? The MOST fulfilling? How many times have I heard that the wonders and joys of parenthood that just simply cannot be described with words? Or about the indescribable love a mother has for her children? Motherhood, is, without a doubt, very sacred.
Even just the other day, a friend of mine who works in a call center got a really nosy caller who kept asking her questions like what color her hair was and what she weighed. She politely – albeit begrudgingly – answered his questions. When his interrogation led him to the knowledge that she’s 31 and has no children he said:
“Why? Most of the women I know who don’t have children are very bitter and unhappy.”
So um, yeah, people still say that, so I feel it’s necessary for me to explain my personal reasons for not wanting children.
First, I’m an atheist. I believe that I have one life to live, and this existence is the only one I’ll ever have. Therefore, I have high standards for my life and I refuse to allow unwanted motherhood to happen to me and alter the entire course of my one life. I am in charge of my destiny. Motherhood will be a choice I make, not something that will happen to me accidentally.
Second, I’m not ready. This is an indisputable fact that I can back up with piles of objective evidence.
My roommate and I spend all our money on clothes, beauty products, and going out to eat.
We work insanely long hours and when we’re not working we’re out at bars and hosting theme parties. I smoke cigarettes. I drink to excess, um, quite often.
I also like to travel. Last year, I spent a week in West Palm Beach in April. In August, my sister and I went on a spur-of-the-moment vacation to NYC on a shoestring budget. In a couple weeks, my boyfriend and I are going to be in Boston for St. Patrick’s Day to tear up the town.
I’m also very active in local political groups. I attend monthly meetings for the SWMO Democrats for which I’m on the Bridging Generations Committee. I’m also Secretary for the Young Democrats of SWMO. And I attend meetings of the Emily Newell Blair Democratic Women’s Club.
I’m the creator of Julie and I’m busy behind the scenes keeping this whole thing going. I spend huge amounts of time writing Julie articles, finding contributing writers, and keeping the website and social media up to date.
I have an extremely fun, busy, and fulfilling life.
Where would there be room for a baby in all that?
If I had a child I would have to kiss my social life, community activism, and Julie goodbye. Hell, some women don’t even have jobs when their children are young because kids are that much work. The baby takes precedent over EVERYTHING else.
On top of all my selfish reasons (if you want to call them selfish, that’s fine) for not having a child, there are practical ones.
I’m not married. I’m not even engaged. I live an apartment that’s too small for me, my roommate, and my cat. I drive an 11-year-old car that is in need of some serious automotive TLC – it’s not fit to tote a precious innocent life around in. I live paycheck to paycheck. If someone suddenly told me that I had to start paying for daycare, diapers, wipes, formula, baby clothes … I’d have a panic attack.
So I’m glad I have my nexplanon. I’m glad I can just walk into Walgreens and buy Plan B. I’m glad that, worst case scenario, I can get an abortion.
But there are a lot of people out there who want to take all that away. So, what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to practice abstinence? … Indefinitely??
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’m just not ready for a baby yet. I’m still young. I’m 26. There’s still time for me to grow up and get stable and be ready for kids.
And I’d agree with that to an extent. I haven’t ruled out the possibility that someday I would want to reproduce in the same way that I haven’t ruled out the possibility that I would someday want to climb Mt. Everest. Yeah, that’d be cool I guess, but it’s so far off my radar it just doesn’t seem possible or even interesting.
I feel like the amount of preparation necessary for me to climb Mt. Everest is on par with the amount of preparation I would need to start doing right now if I wanted to be a mom.
And I don’t want to start stressing about my biological clock either. I don’t want to waste my time worrying about deadlines in my personal life – calculating that I need to be married by a certain age to have kids by a certain age. I deal with enough deadlines at work. If I one day decide I’m ready, then I hope it happens. If I never feel ready and the clock runs out, then so be it. I’m okay with being the cool aunt.
But I definitely don’t think there’s a certain time or age that’s best. It depends on the individual. Some people are ready when they’re 20. Some people are ready when their 40. Some people are never ready. Some people have kids when they’re not ready and make it work and are amazing parents.
Spending time with my little cousins, my nephews, and the little girl I babysit are some of the happiest moments of my life. Being around children is an absolute joy and some of the most fun I ever have. So yeah, there are definite times when the thought of being a mom crosses my mind. But when I have a baby, I want to be 100 percent ready to devote myself to living in their world, and not raise a child who must adjust to living in my world because I wasn’t ready for them. I don’t want to be a single mom. I don’t want to be a poor mom. I’m going to do what it takes to not have to live that life.
I know this all might sound kind of naïve or snobby.
“You can’t plan every single step of your life.”
“You could get pregnant on accident.”
“You can’t guarantee your child’s father won’t leave.”
“You’re so privileged to have the choice to be a mom or not.”
All of those arguments are true. I suppose I can just do my best to prevent those things from happening. So, like I said, I’m a huge proponent for birth control and abortion.
In the America where I was born and raised, women have always had the choice to become pregnant if and when they were ready. That has always been a fact of life for me, and over my dead body is that going to be taken away. I realize that I’m privileged to have access to birth control. I’ve been really lucky in a lot of ways. I know not everyone gets to choose when they have a baby. But this is why I’m a feminist. I won’t rest until every woman has the same choice as me.
Which brings me to my next point.
There are a lot of people out there who want to take that choice away.
They don’t view motherhood to be a choice but a duty.
In some cases, our male leaders in government have the “I know what’s best for you” approach when it comes to motherhood. They create a mandatory “think it over” period before an abortion. Code for: We don’t trust your ability to make the decision yourself because you’re a foolish woman. It’s infuriating.
Or we’re seeing arguments that the woman should have to get permission from the man before getting an abortion.
You see these meninists cry, “She aborted my child! Woe is me!”
A few things about that … First, are we truly supposed to believe that these meninists are just poor saps who want nothing more out of life than to be a doting father? And then the mean lady gets an abortion and ruins their dream?
Let’s imagine a scenario where a woman gets pregnant from a one night stand. After much thought and emotional turmoil, she decides to get an abortion. But first, she has to find the guy with whom she had the one night stand and get permission. The guy raises a big stink about it because he’s “always wanted to be a dad” and refuses to allow her to get the abortion. She says, “Fine. I’ll carry this baby to term, but then it’s yours. I’m out of here. You’ll never see me again and you will raise this child completely on your own.”
I wonder if he would change his tune then?
Also, how could someone be so selfish as to force someone through an unwanted pregnancy for nine months against their will?
What if he were the one who had to go through the suffering of pregnancy and childbirth?
I think what a lot of these meninists really want is their weekend visitation with their cute little kid to do all the fun dad stuff. (Or maybe, what they really want, deep down inside, is another opportunity to control women. Hmm.)
In most (not all) every parenting situation – whether the parents are married or not – the mom does most of the work.
Women are more likely to view parenthood as a permanent life change. Men tend to view parenthood as a big deal, but not life altering – like a getting a new job or buying a boat. More often, men have the privilege of viewing parenthood as temporary. Ask your friends with divorced parents … “How long was your dad around?” Until age 2? 6? 9? 10? 12? 16?
At one point or another, it’s pretty likely your dad isn’t going to live with you anymore.
And in most cases, when parents separate, the dad moves out, starts/keeps partying, starts a new career, moves to another city, gets a new family. The kids stay with mom and that’s what her whole life is about.
In most cases, the mother is the consistent figure. The mother makes the ultimate sacrifice. So men really need to shut up about telling a woman when it’s time for her to make the ultimate sacrifice and be a mom.
Speaking of sacrifices…
Pregnancy and childbirth sound horrific. The idea that bearing children is “what our bodies are made for” makes me vomit. First of all, the reason people say that is because the ability to bear children is something that women are able to do that men are not able to do. Viewing this distinct difference as the primary purpose for having a body is viewing the female body as the “other” or as “abnormal.” This is an example of a patriarchal point of view. If the roles were reversed and men’s bodies were viewed through a matriarchal lens, the most important thing a man could ever do is ejaculate. Forget about money, power, career, or personality, that special thing they can do with their dick and balls is what they were made for!
Women’s bodies are made to do a lot a of things.
My body has the ability to run marathons, but should I have to? No.
My body has the ability to bear children, but should I have to?
It’s time to end the stigma of being a childless woman. End the stigma of taking control of your reproductive rights. And END THE STIGMA OF ABORTION.