Thursday, July 26, 2007
If you noticed this post a couple weeks ago and then came back to find it gone it's because I chickened out and pulled the post. This morning while getting ready for work, Good Morning America covered a similar topic "Couples happy to be Child-free" I may yank the post again actually, but until then here it is a second round. I haven't got to this "comfortable to be child free" so to any of my family reading...this is just a conversation ...think of it as a college discussion or an episode of "coffee talk"
One of the reasons I've hesitated is that this is suppose to be art, fashion and design items but as the year has progressed it obviously has become a personal vehicle for me as well and it's been so lovely sharing information with other women and bloggers out in the world. One of my favorite blogs and I guess an icon for me as personal journals has gone has been Andrea from Superhero Designs - who, when I stumbled on her site was in the midst of a long battle with infertility and being oh so brave about talking about it. I have long admired her honesty for talking about a subject so difficult in a public forum and allowing other women to share in her struggle either literally or just in spirit along side her. [She now has a lovely little boy named Ben]
This may be a multi-part conversation but I decided to talk about it because I'm sure there are other women out there, I know there are actually, that may be having the same conversation in some form or another. And now since I've built it all up here it is...regarding children.
This is sort of a new conversation I've had with some of my women friends lately. I love children and have always believed that I would be a parent at some point. I love babies, I love little kids, mostly I like teenagers - the whole deal. I discover that as I get older though the innocent thoughts of having a baby have been replaced with real life struggles of parents around me. It started about 2 years ago when one of my best friends had her first child and she really talked openingly about the struggles of being pregnant [ I'm convinced now that moms are a cult that don't talk about what really happens during that time], the stress of being a new mom, the guilt but enjoyment of going back to work, the stress of managing a family and working...all of those things. It's been an eye opener really about the truth of what it takes to be a parent. For the first time in my life, I have definite questions for myself if I want to do such a thing. I can fluxuate from hour to hour on what I want. I can wake up at 7am and say Yes! definitely, then by 2pm be absolutely turned to "No Way".
What I've started to do in the past year is watch parents of young and older kids to really observe them. When they say they are happy...are they really? I can think of less than a handful of parents right now that I would describe as happy parents, excited to be with their children. All the others, all I can see is the misery all over their faces and in their actions.
I think, but I don't know for sure [because it's too scary to talk about and I'm not going to ask], is that they had no idea what they were getting into and regret it now even though they love their children very much. I have watched one girlfriend whittle away to nothing and I'm convinced her eating disorder, though it will never be named as such, is a result of her losing control over her life. Eating, or rather not eating is her way of having some sort of order in her world where her children do not always follow her lead.
At 38, this is a continual conversation for me. Often times it's SO emotionally charged that I can't discuss it with family and friends. I am terrified that I won't be able to be a parent if I choose to because my time will run out, and I'm terrified that I will regret the choice to be a parent if I choose to go there. I do know that I would love my child and that I would be a good parent, but would I be happy? I'm glad to have the opportunity at this point in my life to ask myself these questions.
I've had a few enlightening conversations with friends in the past 6 months or so about this. Women who have decided by age or surgical circumstances, some that are really discussing it with their husbands and some who have always known that they did not want to be a mom. I do know this for certain...society doesn't know what to say or do with women who deliberately choose not to be a parent. I have one girlfriend who was on the fence about it and medical conditions forced her hand and she talks about routinely being asked if she's regretted her hysterectomy [by strangers], or still even knowing her story, when she's having a family. They can't believe that she would honestly choose not to. Or another friend when returning home for holidays is put to bed "in the kids room" with her neices who are 1-6yrs old. My friend is 36 and single, yet her family diminishes her to this sort of child-like or non-adult status routinely because they don't know where to put her in their world.
It begs the question... who are we as women when we are not mothers? [either by circumstance or by choice]
When I have asked that this conversation piece be taken off the table...aka "please don't ask me when I'm getting married or having children" which I've had to do with some people that I love: friends and some family, there have been a few that have a difficult time talking to me after I've taken that conversational crutch away. Because it is such an emotionally charged subject for me, I sense they are afraid they'll make a mistake and slip which I understand, but MANY also truly don't know what to say to me after that dialog goes away [that is THE conversation piece of choice for women]. One of my girlfriends who I had to send an email to after she routinely asked me the SAME set of questions every few weeks, barely speaks to me now - as she really doesn't have other topics at the moment to discuss with me [she has two children]. It's TOTALLY ok, I understand it, but it's also very, very interesting to me just in a sociological point of view about how older unwed or child-free women fit or rather don't fit into the mix.
I encourage you as a parent or a woman still deciding to float this article around or just the topic in general and see how much heat comes up in the conversation. I think you'll be surprised about women labeling [self-chosen] non-mothers as "selfish" instead of "honest with themselves" or suspicion about their choices.
So there's the "Coffee Talk" discussion for the day "Tawwwk amongst yourselves" or leave a hate mail I'm not sure which.
stuffed animals via Flickr
Posted by Richie Designs at 8:13 AM