I am the single mother of a 9-year-old, through divorce, who never wanted to be a single parent or divorced. If you asked me as a teen or in my 20s, I’d tell you that I would NEVER have children.
As I wrote in my journal as a girl, I didn’t want to pass on/expose the negativity I felt in my life to another generation. I had different ideas of motherhood then, and couldn’t imagine what my friends who were teen moms were dealing with physically, emotionally, or mentally.
I don’t know where it comes from, but there’s a strong sentiment that something is wrong with a woman who doesn’t bear children by a certain age–or ever. Well-meaning and nosy parents and grandparents, friends and even acquaintances regularly weigh in on when a couple should have their first or subsequent children.
I know a lot of people with my situational status who find love again and start a new family, even though their present children may be in high school or college, but I don’t want to start over. Honestly, the primary reason that I consented to pregnancy and parenting is because my then-husband desperately wanted to actively raise a child of his own. We mutually agreed that I stop taking my (very effective) birth control and I got pregnant the following year. My main reasoning then–in my early 20s–was, “A wife is supposed to have children [if her husband wants them].”
We’re supposed to?
Women have the right to remain childless, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they are selfish. We now have access to free women’s well care and, unless we vote otherwise, will continue to have control over our bodies. Not to mention that over 600,000 children in America are in foster care because their parents did not want them or could not take care of them. (100,000 of them are orphans.)
Eleanore Wells’ recent post on Huffington Post explores the common attitude that we have in our society that women are supposed to get married and have kids. My favorite point that she makes is, “Perhaps when this societal myth that marriage and kids are the only path to fulfillment as an adult goes away, all marriages will be truly love-based and all kids truly wanted.”