It’s not everyones heart’s call to be a mama. Have you ever considered how you think about these women? Those who don’t want kids, can’t have kids, aren’t married and don’t want children outside of that partnership?
How do you question them, encourage them, discourage them, or engage with them? Making the choice to not have kids is so brave, especially in a world where raising a family is often elevated as one of the ultimate things in life.
I love raising my girls. They are my greatest gift. I’m going to guess that if you are a mama, you may feel the same. But children may not be everyone’s greatest gift – and I think it’s worth remembering that we need to encourage the women brave enough to stand in that space too.
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Dear friend who doesn’t want to be a mama: that’s OK
I’ve got to ask you something. I think I already know the answer.
And then I’ve got to tell you something. I really hope you hear it.
Did you feel it, that suffocating pressure? I felt it immediately when I got married. We’d hardly said our “I dos” before “congratulations!” was followed immediately by “Do you want kids? How many? When?” And then after I had one child, the question became “how many more?” And then I had my two girls and it was “aren’t I going to try for a boy?” I’m making my choices, hoping desperately they work out, and still, somehow, it feels like it’s never enough.
I’m not alone in this. I’m certain of that. Do you feel it too?
It’s as if marriage and pregnancy and motherhood all hang some sign around our necks that says “Hi – I’m open for unsolicited advice and judgment related to the choices my partner and I are making.” I’ve probably handled it all in mostly normal ways. I’ve rolled my eyes, laughed off the questions, and more or less haven’t minded, because ultimately, I did want multiple kids and it was hopefully going to happen soon enough to appease all the questioners.
It’s easy to laugh it off when you’re doing what everyone thinks you should.
And then I watched you. You’re stunning, smart, successful, happily married. You are beautifully flawed, incredibly talented, and I can’t get enough of what you are doing with your life.
You’d be an amazing mama. You’re so amazing with my kids. But you don’t want any. That’s ok, did you know that? Does anyone ever offer you that unsolicited advice? Does anyone ever stop telling you all of the great things about being a mama, stop assuring you you’ll change your mind, stop assuming that you’re just being selfish, stop assuming you want to travel, stop assuring you that you’ll be bored soon, or assuming that you’re just scared?
Does anyone ever look at you and say “I respect that choice?” No justifications, no buts, no assumptions – just a celebration of your strong ability to do what is right for you and your family? To avoid the naysayers, the convincers, the doubters? To be countercultural, to be brave, to be honest?
I need you to listen to me, right now. I may be the first one, but I hope I am not the last. To my friend who doesn’t want kids – I respect you and your choice. I’m not waiting for you to change your mind. And I’m not sitting over here thinking that you are lacking. I am living a good and beautiful life with my two kids. So are you, without any.
Good and beautiful things can be done, can be found, can be lived, whether or not you choose to have kids.
If I’m being honest, I don’t know if I believed that until I watched you. But I think we all need to believe that. I think we all need to respect that.
So thank you. Thank you for reminding me, reminding all of us, that a life well-lived can look a million different ways.
[This piece first appeared on Her View From Home]