Though it is cliche, it is so true that once you become a mother (or just a parent, really) you see the world completely different. You really do begin to see the world through the eyes of your child. And that can sometimes be such an ugly picture.
In the past, I recall a particular scenario that has repeated itself over and over again, in different places and spaces, with different people, different genders, ethnicities and nationalities (though predominately Bahamian, most particularly so). Indeed, it has occurred so many times that it is almost etched into my very psyche.
I avoid this topic, this conversation with every being in me because it makes me so uncomfortable, so angry that frustration and flustering are immediate. What am I talking about exactly? Well let me first recount a typical scenario.
Upon talking to a few colleagues, in my old place of work, we were talking about children. Many gushed that they couldn’t wait to settle down and pop a few out. One wanted 6 children. Another 2, because 6 was too many. Another wanted 1, but wouldn’t the child be lonely? What about 3? Do you want girls? Boys? Should you have a mix? Too many boys are bad. But too many girls are a problem. And on, and on it went till it was my turn. And unto them I answered: I don’t want any children. There was a quite moment when a man smiled and said, oh, but you’re so young (I was 23), wait till you’re older, you’ll change your mind. My colleagues were around my age, so let’s say we had a pool of 20 to 30 and 2 who were over 50. Two men to 5 women.
Every single one of them said the exact same thing, that of course, I am mistaken, I must surely want children, that my hormones are just temporarily frozen, and I shall feel that urge to procreate upon maturity.
Insulting My Faculties
Let me first say, that the above scenario is inherently insulting. It is condescending and overly personal. And to make it all worse, I’ve heard it so many damn times I just roll my eyes and keep on going. Let me ground you a bit. I’ve always felt detached from children, even so as a child I didn’t connect with my peers. This solidified as I entered my teens and 20s. I do not want children. I have no desire to have children. I will never, biologically, birth my own children.
So to imply, that my desire to not procreate is:
- A lack of maturity is immensely insulting. I know many mature young 20s that have childrenand it’s great! I know a few older individuals who have children that are clearly unprepared, not ready and indeed almost emotionally neglectful towards their kids. So what does this men? That age ain’t nuttin but a number. Desire to have children is evident in the very young to the very old. Now the ability to have children, is, yes, a bit limited by age but I submit that age or maturity has nothing to do with the sheer desire (or lack thereof) to have children. My faculties aren’t broken, if I do not want to have children that is an irrevocably personal decision to do with being 24.
- A symptom of not being female-enough, is also incredibly insulting. I do not believe that there is a biological gene that requires I desire children. I can physically, birth a few kids, but there is no darn gene for this desire. I am against a biological notion of motherhood, to do so isolates so many women that are deemed less than for not having children for personal or physical children! My great-aunt could not physically birth children and growing up in the 60s, this was hard for her. She was isolated. Deemed as a broken thing. And for this to continue today? My femaleness is intact, my femininity (or perceived lack thereof) is not a cause or system of something that is wrong. Desire is not biological, it is personal.
I Am More Than My Ovaries
This is backed up by (or used as an excuse when persons choose to cross personal and emotional boundaries by demanding to have some reason, some physical reason as to my brazenness) the fact that physically, I have a serious hormone problem that makes it near physically impossible to do so. But of course, the doctor broke this to me very tenderly, like I was a fragile doll, and upon my complete lack of interest in this news, referred me to see a psychiatrist because surely, a woman who does not want to have children is utterly broken).
However, I use it primarily as an excuse to avoid overly personal, boundary crossing questions. That is my being complacent, I know, because instead of educating I seek a shortcut out. I will also state that before my hormones decided to go a bit wonky, I did not want children. I didn’t want them then, I don’t want one now, and I can pretty much surmise that I will not want them when I am in my 40s, 50s, or 60s.
I will not regret this decision, I am not doomed to eternal loneliness, a life filled with emptiness because I didn’t produce a few genetically similar beings. I am not sick. I should not be fixed, so please, please, do stop trying.
This whole thing frustrates me, and I wonder if it is cultural? Being Bahamian, I have seen the righteous indignation upon my statement of a childless-future most predominately amongst Bahamians, both equally between men and women.
Women are confused, why would I not want children? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do (again, I submit, I am not some breeding chattel, I am a human and far above my breeding purposes)? I do not ridicule women who want to or have had children. I admire them, it is hard to give birth, and it is hard to nurture. I admire these women and think that having children is just another facet of life, and that the women who chose not to have children are also to be admired. Having or not having children means nothing about the woman’s choices or personhood. She is still a human being. Funny enough, the really personal, heartbreaking insults tend to be from fellow women. Sad.
Men are just horrified. Why wouldn’t I want to fulfill my womanly obligations to society? I get a few bible quotes every now and then, and I just ignore them. Some men seem to think that the biological argument is more reasonable, surely, I should want to have children? (On a side note, why do some men think it’s attractive to come onto a woman saying he wants to have babies with her? Did I miss a biological memo?).
Why do we as Bahamian (or world citizens at large, I would love to hear from everyone) seem to think that women should want to have children (or raise them, because I also don’t want to adopt. No. Children. Regardless from where they come from). Is it religion? Is it tradition? Is it Darwinian feedback?