Motherhood Is a Choice, Not My Natural Instinct
No, it isn’t my turn any time soon
by Anita Markoff
“But you’ve thought about it, right? Of course, you’ve thought about it. Holding a little version of you in your arms.”
The words recently spoken to me by a male friend echoed the sentiment voiced to me many times over the years. My mother dreams of the day that I call her with the news that she is about to have a grandchild. She wants to coach me through childbirth the way her mother could not. My teachers in secondary school told me to write a book before I started a family and it was too late. Girls at sleepovers asked me for the names I had planned for my children. Women and men in my life have expressed their varying levels of interest in cradling an infant of their own. Some have suggested that my lack of maternal instinct is temporary; a result of hormones. My natural desire for children will kick in soon enough. I am too young to be told that my biological clock is ticking yet, but I’m sure the day will come when I am asked at baby showers if it’s my turn next.
I don’t want to have children. I may never want to.
The thought of something consuming my body, diminishing my sex drive, reducing my desire to create art or energy to pursue a career fills me with dread.
I want to be allowed to be ambitious. To focus my time on a job I care about and my affection on myself. There shouldn’t be a double standard where men are allowed to find purpose in the workplace and women must search for it in the faces of their children.
I don't resent the women whose hearts beat faster imagining dressing up their future children in tiny baby clothes or choosing their names.
Procreation can be a beautiful process. However, I do resent the societal expectations placed upon women’s bodies.
Men are allowed time to think of career first, family second. My brother is currently being asked about his career aspirations, while at his age I was being asked about my time frame for planning raising children with my partner. There is a concept of the bachelor, a man free to enjoy the money he has worked hard to earn, free of pressures of the expectations or needs of others. His pad, a sanctuary he can fill with technological equipment he buys for himself, with enough space for a separate beer fridge and time to play video games. The female equivalent to a bachelor is a crazy cat lady. In this stereotype, the woman is still spending her time and energy on someone besides herself, even if it is a clowder of animals she loves. She is thought of as a little sad, and maybe crazy, pottering around her flat catering to the needs of the furry pets she uses to fill an empty void where children should be.
Motherhood can be a powerful and wonderful thing if it is a woman’s choice. But too many women are pressured into pregnancy by the expectations of their partners, families and friends. I want to put on a suit and go to the office from nine to five too. I don’t want to experience morning sickness or cravings or waking up at four am to feed a crying infant. I hope the next generation grows up in a world where girls are not expected to have an innate desire for motherhood just because we are physically capable of having children.