You see the girl at a family event or at a friend’s party. Pretty, beautiful even. She saunters by with an air of grace, sexiness even. Over by the kid’s table, a few nieces and nephews greet her enthusiastically. She’s down on the floor playing with them, reading stories, conducting puppet shows, and all without spilling a drop of her cocktail.
You lean over to your boy and ask which kid is hers.
Her? She doesn’t have any kids. But she’s great with them isn’t she?
So you make your approach. Because THIS may be the future Mrs. and Mother of Your Children. Ms. Beautiful consents to an exchange of numbers, and eventually you go on a first date.
One date leads to another, a couple more. Your conversations get deeper. Somehow, the topic of kids comes up and she says…
“Nope. Don’t want ‘em. Ever. No thanks.”
“Oh. You mean you can’t have kids?”
“No. I mean I don’t want them. I like my life. I’ve worked to hard on my career/body/first novel/artistic equivalent to the Sistine Chapel to ever want one. Why, do you?”
There you sit. Stunned, because you are talking to one of the 12 Women You’ll Meet in Life:
A woman who doesn’t want kids. Doesn’t want and can’t have are two very different things. She – as far as she knows – is fully capable of having a baby and bringing it to term.
She just doesn’t want to. She doesn’t hate kids…er, maybe she does. But she definitely doesn’t want them. Not have, not step-parent, not adopt. None.
I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. Because we have been told our whole lives that every woman wants a baby. Relationships have ended because of “baby fever”. Movies, books, and thousands upon thousands of blogs and articles have been written about a woman’s biological clock. Y’know the one…it kicks in at about 30 and goes into hyperdrive at about 40?
Pffft. HLBB don’t try with the bullshit EVERY chick wants to have a baby.
No. They don’t.
Where do you meet them?
The Un-BabyMamas are hard to find, because if they speak up, they WILL be ostracized. I know. For many years, I was the Un-BabyMama of my group. There was no secret wish to have a child…no “special names” picked out and stored in a diary somewhere. My uterus did not swell when I smelled the top of a baby’s head (still doesn’t, by the way). I was not putting on a front. Every time I declared that I didn’t want kids, I would get a look that fell somewhere between disgust and wonderment. they haven’t invented a side-eye .gif for the look Un-BabyMamas get…
How could you not want to do the single most powerful thing as a woman you could do? Don’t you know how many women out there would LOVE to have a child and CAN’T? Yet, here you sit, saying that you won’t? That’s just…selfish.
This and variations of it are some of the things said to Un-BabyMamas who say that they don’t want kids. They are told they are less of a woman because they choose not to have kids. They are accused of being lesbians (even though lesbians have babies…I know a couple who are taking turns being the pregnant wife). They are told they are taking pro-choice too far. Because they choose not to have a baby. You see pro-choice (as in choosing to have an abortion) is okay, as long as you plan to do make up for it in the future by having one to even out your karmic balance. Or something like that.
Un-BabyMamas have told me that they do not want to have a child because they see no benefit in bringing one into the world…or more specifically, THEIR world. Their world is – despite what people think – full of love, accomplishments, and achievements. They do not see a child as a be all and end all to their existence…their life would still be complete. They have found their purpose in life / work and devote considerable time to it… time that would otherwise be compromised if they had child. The thought of child does not outweigh what they have now.
What’s this about their body? They can work out. What’s a few pounds?
It’s not just the weight. Women go up a shoe size while pregnant. If she has a Carrie Bradshaw sized collection, you’re looking at thousands of dollars gone. If she’s had a C-section, she has had a major surgical procedure, with permanent scarring. High blood pressure, risks of strokes, allergic reactions to an epidural, alopecia (i.e. going completely bald)…all of these things have happened to women when they’ve had a baby. That’s just the scary shit. Every woman I know who has had a child can tell you the body changes. The hair, the skin, the breasts, and yes, even the vagina changes permanently.
I ask you. Does your penis change after you’ve had a baby?
That’s just pregnancy. Then there’s the whole raising the child part…
But it’s not like she’s raising the kid on her own.
Maybe not. It takes a village…blah blah. Husband…co-parenting…blah blah. However, the expectation of responsibility falls on the mother. Mothers are expected to be there in the middle of the night to chase away boogeymen and bring glasses of water. Mothers can see the cuts and scrapes invisible to the mortal eye. The way a mother cooks a favourite dish is remembered by many. That’s (at least) 18 years of expectation. 18 years is long time to defer a career, or a dream. As much as a man will be there for their child, whether in the home or out of it, the expectation is not theirs.
If a man abandons his fatherly duties, he’s a bastard. A deadbeat. An asshole. If a woman abandons her motherly duties…she’s a monster.
This is how we were conditioned. This is how we were all raised. For a woman to “have it all”, the “all” includes a baby. The “have it all” package for men has baby as an option. No one has asked “what’s wrong with George Clooney?” because he’s fatherless at 50. But Oprah? How many of you wondered it. How many of you thought that all her dogs were substitutes for babies…?
So this woman you meet…she is everything you could want in a woman. Except she came without a biological clock. Now, you’re looking at her differently. I asked on Twitter the other day if, as a guy would you continue to be with an Un-BabyMama and many guys were honest (they said no). But how many of these guys know that they want kids? One guy I know wasn’t sure he wanted kids. But, as soon as the Un-BabyMama declared her choice, he broke up with her. Because one day, he may be ready.
Does an Un-BabyMama change her mind?
At the beginning of this post, I said I was a former Un-BabyMama. I now sit firmly on the fence. I have no idea. There is no urge to have a child. If I ended up pregnant, I would not have an abortion, this I know. I am grossly insulted when someone says I’d make “a great mom”. Based on what? Because I have a uterus? Because I can play with a baby? When a friend announces she is pregnant I am truly happy for them…not jealous…not repulsed…happy. Because like a dream job, or completed novel/50k marathon/Sistine Chapel, they have gotten something that they truly want.
So I’m going to ask again: would you want a woman who wanted to be childless?
p.s. how unbaby am I? I had to create the category “baby” for this post…
Update: I had to add this link: http://myfriendsaremarried.tumblr.com/post/30954380075/when-i-tell-my-friend-im-not-sure-if-i-want-to-have