Womanhood and motherhood, often intertwined, are complicated as separate entities. Connected by the obvious bodily transformation that belongs only to women, this connection is unfair to assume upon all women.
When a woman is called “barren” she is deemed unlucky, and unable to grow, unable to create life and love. She is seemingly doomed to be forever trapped within herself, unable to give unto another. This is untrue, as some of the greatest love and need to nurture can spark from the strong to desire to give – be it your own blood or not.
A woman who does not want children – and chooses to live a life without them — is deemed selfish, insensitive to a supposed gift bestowed upon her.
Many scenarios like this exist, and vary per individual situation. These are the days of the pendulum of reproductive rights swinging every way imaginable. Still — when the pendulum swings on choosing to not be a mother — the pendulum itself stops aghast.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons via http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mother%27s_Love.jpg
The pressure to be a mother is fierce, and real. As someone who grew up in the modern day U.S., I am allowed to have my choice in the matter of my potential motherhood. Our society has more understanding and open-minded acceptance than generations of women prior. Even still, I’ve never been entirely comfortable admitting to some of my closest confidantes, that “No, I do not want children”. I don’t tell friends out of judgment and misunderstanding; I don’t tell suitors out of the fear of repulsion. (Note the anonymous posting behind this). The actual, physical pain of labor scares me less than the idea of being responsible and loving towards another soul for a minimum of 18 years. The reasoning is subject to even more scrutiny: a poor relationship with my mother and a history of severe post-partum in our family, make me scared to raise a child with the same disdain, and to fall victim to a life of medicated valleys and mountains seems unpleasant and undesirable. Try as I may, or try as I might, motherhood doesn’t appeal to me in this season of my life. Being a mother is not a desire that should be forcibly willed to succumb to societal pressure and expectation.
In an ideal world, prior damage shouldn’t stop me from becoming the mother I’d have liked mine to be. A poor experience shouldn’t squash one of the major female experiences. To me, having a child to have that experience, or to appease a spouse, seems selfish when considering the past that may be laid upon the poor child. To save a child from a life of potential misery seems the right thing to do.
I can’t help but think of poor Kate Middleton. The experience of her first pregnancy has been deemed by drama and circus-like media attention. For her motherhood will never be “normal”. As a “commoner” young-girl, I would certainly imagine the dreams of motherhood she may have had were far different than the pregnancy she is living. How much of her free-will and choice has been exerted in the last 9 months? How much will be exerted in the years to come? In her birthing of a prince or princess, she is forgoing her ability to raise a child with any sense of normality. I find myself wondering if she feels fear, guilt, or maybe relief at the ability to provide for this child. It is such a complicated scenario, and one with no privacy or simplicity. Is it fair to make motherhood a community effort? Is it beneficial or harmful to have such a public child-bearing and raising situation? A child should not be a guinea pig to life well-lived.
There is a part of me that hopes that the yearn to mother will one day hit me. Until then, I wait in silence for that day to come, or for the day when society won’t judge my opinions or choices. It shouldn’t be a matter of which day comes first, but it may very well boil down to just that.