15 Comments

Open Letter to Women Who Do Not Want Children.

From Flickr user Xinem

Dear Woman,

There is nothing wrong with you. You are self-aware and strong and wise. You are making the right choice. You are the only one who should make that choice.

Sex is fun. It is all right to still want to have sex, even if you don’t want to have children. This does not make you a slut, harlot, brazen, whore, or any other. It makes you a mammal.

If, in the course of having sex and fun, you get pregnant, you have some options. You will know what to choose. You must listen to yourself, regardless of what others say.

Only you will have the right answer. Trust your gut, not your head. Do not trust the billboards that you’ve never noticed, the ones that say, “Pregnant? Need Help? Call Catholic Family Charities.” Those people do not have help. They have guilt-inducing dogma and rhetoric.

It is all right to get your tubes tied. If a doctor tells you he won’t, go to another doctor.

It is also all right to change your mind. If you change your mind post tubal, there are other ways to become a mother.

Maybe you know this, it has informed your choice: Children are devastatingly difficult. When you’re a mother, you reinvent yourself. You become Somebody’s Mom. You become the arbiter of another person’s physical, emotional, and mental health. It is the hardest thing, and not everybody should do it.

It’s all right to hate the people a little who shake their heads at you and tsk and say inane shit like, “You’ll change your mind. Being a mother is beautiful.”

It’s all right to not be friends with people who act like you’re some kind of retard because you don’t have kids and don’t want them. The ones who say, “Only a mother can understand.”

It’s all right to cling to your youth, your beautiful, unstretched body. It’s all right not to want to want to be pregnant. It’s all right not to want stretch marks and tits that sag and to be a pod. It’s all right to want tattoos on your torso more than you want babies. This does not make you vain and selfish. This means you have plans.

It is good to have plans. It is all right if your plans do not include children.

If you like to be alone, you’re not strange or a cat lady, a witch, or some kind of progressive weirdo. You’re a person who likes to be alone.

If you want to be married or coupled for the long term, it is all right not to want to have kids, just be sure to pick a partner who also does not want to have kids, and for similar reasons to yours.

Sisters, I am a mother, and I love my child. But I am a mother who is a woman who never wanted kids.

I sometimes say that I’m a little glad that I became a mother in the way I did. That I wouldn’t have made time for it.

But many, many more times, even though my kid is surpassingly cool and funny, and even though I love her more than I love breathing, even though motherhood agrees with me on the whole; I feel good about acknowledging that I’m really sad that I didn’t follow my gut and give my baby up for adoption.

She would have a better life.

I would’ve gotten over it.

Love,
A Mother Who Never Wanted Kids.

15 comments on “Open Letter to Women Who Do Not Want Children.

  1. I remember meeting you that first time, how fearless you were about being a writer and a single mom. I admire you a lot, and as a non-mom, let me also say thank you for this.

  2. Extreme applause for so many things in there, although also sympathy and hugs for the last bit. That must’ve been hard to write, but it’s very valuable that you did, and I’m impressed anew.

    I’m very happy to be a mom. I went to extreme lengths to do it via IVF, and now we’re trying to be one of those couples who’ll happily take an adopted child.

    I have been told off for being pro-choice while trying to adopt because people are stupid. “Choice” means exactly that, and some choose to terminate, some choose to birth, some choose to adopt, and some choose to parent. All choices are valid. Every woman should have full rights to those choices.

    So I see those billboards and feel kind of sick, because I know that some of the groups involved are steering people to a bad choice, a forced pregnancy by guilt and fear, and that’s not good for anybody.

    I would rather not be able to have a second child but preserve full choice rights for every woman. I would rather be sad when my daughter asks constantly for a sibling and have to say, “We can’t, there aren’t any babies available for adoption” than know that any woman anywhere was doing anything other than what she thought was best for her.

    I would also rather that more women – particularly in the third world – be spared pregnancy until they truly want it, because our planet can’t sustain ancient patriarchal notions of massive broods. See http://youtu.be/LhAhg-PdJ1Q .

    People need to stop telling other people how to live and what to do with their reproductive parts.

    • Sorry I didn’t reply yesterday, I was not really expecting this post to be such a massive hit. Thanks for the good words. :-)

      I have another friend who’s a strong, independent, thinking feminist who had a baby via IVF. She promptly became a single mother, and she is the single mother I aspire to be. She is amazing.

      Still. I would be interested to talk at length sometime about the processes and procedures of IVF. I suspect you are very well-informed & well-read on the topic.

      Cheers!
      -A

      • I am and I’m not…a great deal has changed since I did it in 2004. By the time I was going to infertility support groups in 2006, they were already on about drugs and procedures that were different from mine. We tried again with remaining embryos in 2010 but that was just transfer, which is more basic. And it didn’t work.

        But I’d answer any questions I could. A lot of it is a blur now.

  3. Hear, hear. Your unfettered honesty is why I read your blog, and will continue to do so.

  4. I didn’t ever want to be a mother either. It wasn’t really part of my plan. Until it was. I decided to get pregnant with my husband and it worked like a charm the first month. Good thing, too. It happened so fast I didn’t have time to change my mind. (I wish more people who felt this way would put it out there in the world. Thanks, April, for saying how you really feel!)

    As a single woman (got divorced when my son was 5) with aspirations and a child, I can tell you what you already know or suspect: if you have a child, it takes longer to reach your goals. There are a lot of things you have to give up that you had hoped for for yourself. People who tell you otherwise are lying. The only way to reach your goals while being a Mom is by being rich. Then you can buy the help you need for raising your kid — like someone who is there to pick up the sick kid at school when you are at a key business meeting in NYC (I could create a giant list of real life examples here).

    That said, I love that I’m a Mom. I love that I’ve had this opportunity to raise a son and help him find himself (he’s 15 so he’s in the thick of finding himself now). The fact that you can show him (or her, as the case may be) all the different opportunities in life — Opening up as many doors as you can and giving him a little push toward as many of them as possible is what I strive for daily. Hell, it’s a ton of work, but it’s really gratifying at times. (Warning: it’s also nerve wracking and frustrating. I have a lot more grey hair than I should have. Thanks be to Clairol.)

    *I’ve met other parents who disagree with me about what the goal of parenthood is. It’s an interesting topic. A lot of people think their job is to protect their kid. I personally think that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. Sure, there are times when you have to protect your kid, but I don’t think that’s the main objective of parenting. For me, the main objective is to prepare them for life in the 21st century.

    On choice, I totally agree. When I was younger, I experienced birth control failure and chose abortion. It’s been over 20 years and I’ve never regretted it.

    I would also like to say that people who are against choice often haven’t thought through specific situations in which abortion would be the correct choice. Even people who are against abortion have had to choose it.

    Because of the ways laws are now restricting abortion, pregnant woman who have a health risk are being forced to plan complex logistical health care for themselves when ultimately the choice should be between the woman and her doctor.

    Let me give you an example from my life: when I was pregnant with my son , my AFP Triple Test came back with some extreme irregularities. At that time a triple test could only be done at a specific week in pregnancy: week 12. It takes 10-14 days for the results to come back. By then I was at week 14. Because of the results, the next logical test was amniocentesis. By the time that appointment was scheduled and results came in (results depend on how fast they can grow your cells in a lab — mine took the full two weeks grow. Some take as little as 5 days). At week 14, my doctor advised me of all possible choices once the amniocentesis came back. She had to do this in advance because by the time the results would be back, I would not legally be able to get an abortion in my state. I remember thinking: “This is ludicrous. My health is at risk and I can’t even plan the right care for myself in my own state.” So here’s what I had to do: I had to plan and make appointments in advance for all possible outcomes. My doctor had to refer me to doctors out of state and I had to make an appointment for an abortion in that state in case my test results came back positive. Now, if we had sensible abortion laws, I would not have had to go through this whole process. I could have waited for the results and then made a decision with my own doctor.

    What I find so onerous about the ways in which laws are now being enacted is that the people making and advocating for these laws are not taking into account the health and well-being of the mother, of women. Abortion is more than just “a choice” sometimes it truly is about saving a life. This is the grey scale, not black and white, that life truly is about. What’s more unnerving is that only people of means can get the kind of health care I needed in my situation. I was lucky because I had the means but what about the people who do not have the means? This is why “choice” truly does matter. When we restrict people from getting the health care they need, how can we legitimately think we are really giving women a choice?

  5. Sister,
    While I respect your decision to speak your mind, I do hope that your daughter NEVER EVER reads this.

  6. April, I don’t know how I missed this. I love it and you!

    Aimee I think P will be well adjusted and smart enough to see it for what it is. As an adoptee myself I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a child hearing that a parent considered giving her/him away because doing so would have guaranteed a better life.

  7. I’m happily Childfree, and I appreciate your honesty. I suspect that because you are aware of all the could-haves and what-ifs, that you’re probably a better parent than many of them out there, even if it feels like it takes a huge effort on your part.

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