Monday, 23 January 2012

Resisting the siren call of dirty nappies and four a.m. feedings

I've been told that Czech society is rather old-school conservative when it comes to gender roles. It’s not like I’ve conducted a formal survey or anything, but a few women have told me that their husbands expect them to perform all of the household duties, since it is “women’s work”. This would explain the look of shock I received from someone when I said that I – a woman in my late thirties - have never been married, nor had children. This was the first time that anybody reacted in this way towards my lifestyle choices (outside of the developing world that is). Thankfully in most of the enlightened world, a woman’s worth is not based on her ability - or willingness - to rent out her uterus. Despite the persistence of fundamentalist extremists who might argue otherwise, motherhood is increasingly becoming more of a choice and no longer the only available path.   
My childlessness can be attributed to a combination of not meeting the so-called "Mr. Right" and a long series of choices that have resulted in a rather rootless and nomadic life. More importantly, however, I’ve never wanted children. I'm not comfortable around them and the little leeches require more attention than I am willing to give. I guess it's safe to say I’m way too selfish to be bothered with the needs of a child.

With that being said, this article really resonated with me and put into words some of the feelings that I have been dealing with for the past few months. Unlike the author, I don't spend nights weeping into my pillow grieving over the realization that I probably will never have a child; but, as I find myself nearing “the change”, and it becomes increasingly more difficult to conceive, I do feel as if I am mourning something. I don't know if it is hormonal or the persistence of traditional expectations taking up space in my brain, but I feel as if I am missing out on a part of me, as a woman at the very, very basic, evolutionary level. Whatever it is, it is definitely messing with my head.

My choice to not have kids (or at least delay the process) is valid and definitely a positive thing and the purpose of this post is not to denigrate any woman who makes the same choice (or who is unable to bear children), nor is it to make motherhood into the most significant aspect of a woman’s life. It’s very definitely not. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that being a woman is weird.

I don’t know if the choices I have made in my life were the right ones. Maybe I am missing out on something. I dunno. Since George Clooney has yet to come-a-knocking at my door, it's becoming less likely the world will ever see a radical Kung Fu goddess burst forth from my mommy parts. It’s kind of a shame, really. She would have been totally badass.


C.Rabideaux said...

As a mom of three, as someone who has had her dishpan hands in the raising of at least nine children; as someone who cannot get 20 minutes alone in the bathroom or finish a meal without begging eyes at my knees or over my shoulder, let me say this: Motherhood should ALWAYS be a choice. The social, societal, and physical demands of being a woman are difficult enough to meet without the looming fear of judgement from silvery haired grandmas or pink, Nike ball cap and yoga pants wearing soccer moms. Are women in any society ever lacking for reasons to feel inadequate? Be thin, but not too thin. Be smart, but not too smart. Have gigantic, perky tits. Be simultaneously curvy and athletic. Have children, but not too many. And...make it all look effortless; nobody likes a griping bitch.

I love my children. They are brilliant, funny, beautiful, and uncommonly kind and generous. However, if there is some kind of soulful, feminine bliss that was supposed to be included with the wailing, pooping, puking bundle of enormous responsibility I have thrice delivered, I got ripped off. I do not believe in the "natural" mother. Nobody knows how to mother a child. You say that you are too selfish for a child. I say that I wasn't selfish enough. I have always poured myself into my relationships; loved others more than myself. When I became a mom, I had no idea how to take care of a baby, or myself. It took a long time for me to realize that if I wasn't ok, my kids wouldn't be ok. If I could do it all again and end up with the same kids I have now, I would wait until 35 to have a child. Before then, I had no idea what the hell I was doing.

I'll say it again; I love my kids. But, if I said that I've never had a day when I wished for a life of my own, I'd be a liar.

Me said...

Thanks for your honesty! I love your voice!
It should be a matter of choice and not obligation. Did you see this study?

It basically says that gay parents may turn out to be better parents because they choose to be parents and are more committed and involved in their kids lives.
I used to work with kids in a psychiatric ward and saw the consequences of parents who didn't (or couldn't) give a damn. It kind of warped my idea of parenting and was a really great form of birth control.