In Defense of Empty Wombs
The topic at hand shouldn’t need justification; in an ideal world I suppose
As I get further into my twenties, the onslaught of questions surrounding my life decisions seem to focus on two—and only two— subjects: my career and my love life. Once the “what do you do for a living?” questions are exhausted, the shift comes and the conversation becomes — a little more candid. When someone asks me about my relationship status, or my desire to get married, or if I want to start a family, I respond—truthfully—that my empty womb has no intention of ever becoming pregnant.
I never want to become pregnant
I consistently get at least one of the following responses:
“You’ll change your mind when you meet the right person.”
“It’ll be different when it’s your own kid.”
“Just wait until that biological clock starts ticking.”
“You’ll be a great mom.”
“Yes, you do. I know you really do.”
Suddenly, my honest and—unintentionally—shocking response is the only thing about me that is of interest. Without fail, people forget about the interesting and exciting things I’ve done with my life and become fixated on a minute detail of a future that I’ve merely envisioned for myself. How is possible that I—a woman of a certain age, with a proclivity for heterosexual partnering—could possibly fathom a life where I am not a wife and mother? How could there be anything more that? First of all, why do you think that I need to explain that to you?
It’s not a phase.
No, this is not a phase I’m going through. At no point in my life have I thought: “Gee, I can’t wait to have babies”. Not once.
No, I am not scared of childbirth. My mother was a prenatal instructor for sixteen years. I am neither blissfully unaware nor hyper-cognizant-to-the-point-of-terror of the birthing process. I am realistically knowledgeable about pregnancy and the entire birthing process.
Yes, I’ve been told that this means I’ll be “by myself” when I’m old and grey. Really, though? I won’t be. Having children does not safe guard anyone from being alone; the relationships you cultivate are the only thing that can guarantee having others in your life.
For some reason, despite all of the boundaries we build, and any of the decorum that we develop when we talk with others, it still seems to be acceptable to try to dictate whether or not women will become mothers.
How dare you? What is done by me, with my body, is my decision and mine alone: you do not get to have an opinion on it any more than I get to have one about your weight, sexual orientation, or skin colour. Having children, or choosing not to, is not the tipping point for whether a life will become fulfilling. Yes, for many, the thought of bearing children and being a parent is all encompassing and makes them whole. To them, I tip my proverbial hat. I’m so happy that you have found what you want, need, and deserve in your life. Please, extend that same courtesy to me. For some, there is more to life that becoming a parent.
I have numerous friends who call their parents by their first names. As I child, I didn’t understand why they didn’t use “mom” and “dad”. Being an inquisitive (and slightly nosey) child, I asked. I was always given some kind of spiel about having been “Linda first” and that it was “Zoe’s mom’s real name”, but as I got older and the conversation resurfaced I was given a more candid answer: I was told, simply, that “I am more than just a mother”. How can anyone be faulted for that? Trying to juggle being a parent, an active member in society, a partner, and an employee: why shouldn’t we just use our name? Are we not pigeon-holing ourselves into a single role? As I’ve said, there is nothing wrong with being a parent, wanting to be a parent, or loving being a parent, but please don’t be dismissive of the goals, dreams, and expectations others have (or don’t have) for their lives. Having the opportunity to decide exactly what we want out of life isn’t afforded to all people—stop taking it for granted and dismissing the choices others are making.
Different is not wrong.
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