I remember the first time I felt peace in a social setting, on the heels of a response from a conversational and classy, older lady, who upon listening to me say, “being a mum is not a role I ever prioritized,” said simply, “good for you!” Just like that, my shoulders softened, my tense tongue dropped from the roof of my mouth, and I fit in. If only for a moment, and in one social interaction, the feeling of fitting in felt so comforting, after a four-year journey, tip-toeing around society’s judgment of my decision to choose my marriage over motherhood.
I’m that woman who waited until my early thirties to marry, and I married a man who already had kids and didn’t want any more. He never hid this desire from me, we spoke openly about it, and we decided that, for us, there would be no biological children between us. (I’ll pause as you gasp in horror.)
Women are brilliant, vivacious, multi-faceted human beings who have the opportunity to decide for themselves which roles to play during their lives. Sadly, some of us don’t allow ourselves that right and that choice of roles, as society’s loud and closed-minded views, penetrate our minds before we have a chance to make ours up for ourselves. “Culturally, we believe that women are uniquely wired to want children, and challenging this means questioning everything we were taught about our place in the world.” Dr. Amy Blackstone
People ask me all the time, “wasn’t it a difficult decision to make?” (note the assumption that is was difficult) I say, “yes,” but not for the reasons you would think. I was clear in my “yes” to my husband about choosing to marry him and not having our own biological children. Further, I was a bit relieved. I’m not a woman who thinks childbirth is something I need to experience in this life.
I don’t think motherhood is for every woman, and I don’t think it makes a woman less-than if she decides to not birth or adopt a child. I feel that motherhood is one role, of many, women can choose. I also feel that motherhood is only one adventure, of many, a woman can have. What made my decision difficult was the wrath of judgment placed on me, about my decision. Some of it wasn’t outwardly cruel (some of it was), but more of a subtle snub that I don’t belong, or can’t understand, or can’t empathize, because I am not a mom.
In some circles, I was assumed to be selfish, narcissistic, and empty inside because I didn’t bear my own children. Comments such as, “what do you do with your time?” and “is there anything meaningful in your life?” proved to me that we still have a long way to go to reach true female empowerment. Once women can stop criticizing other women for the roles they’ve chosen, and for how they execute those roles, we’ll be on the right path to true equality.
Even mothers receive criticism from other mothers. I’ve heard friends crushingly share that another woman criticized her decision to work full-time or to not breastfeed, or even to criticize the way she dressed her own child. I can empathize with this crushing feeling, and I am sad to hear any woman attacking another woman for her choices for her family.
In my opinion, it is not men who limit women’s potential. It is other women. Women who either secretly or outwardly treat another woman differently because she chose to prioritize different roles for their life are part of the problem that keeps women stuck in antiquated roles.
In one interview I did for my book, High Performance Detox, a woman shared that her decision to have children was made for her and that her family of origin and husband never discussed “if” but “when” she would become pregnant. Of course, she loves her children and shared that her family life is fulfilling, but she also shared that she wishes she would have had an active role in the decision to have children.
I remember my husband and I specifically discussing our plans for children. I appreciate how he honored the importance of the conversation by insisting I focus on what he is saying. In his own unique (and quite fabulous) way, he opened a nice bottle of a Napa red blend, from a vineyard we visited on our last trip to the Napa Valley, and we shared a glass, as we discussed what would work best for us and our life plans. By the end of the glass, I not only knew I wanted to marry him (at this point in my life, I wasn’t even sure I was the marrying type), but that I was perfectly fine not birthing my own children. I also knew that I found the perfect human complement to my already fulfilling life, plus two step-kids. I knew it wouldn’t be easy blending a family together with four imperfect beings, but I also had an overwhelmingly peaceful feeling that it would all be worth it. So began our Plan B.
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