I have never been a “kid person.” It’s not that there is anything wrong with kids, it’s just that they aren’t for me.
Perhaps my feeling this way stems from being the only child of an only child—no younger siblings to watch grow up, hardly any time spent with the few cousins I have, and generally zero exposure to children younger than myself.
It’s almost as if I were always the child in the room, so much that it’s difficult not to still feel like one at twenty-one years of age.
I’m at the age now where I hear the women around me speaking about their desires for families one day. They just “can’t wait” to have children of their own. Maybe two, three, or seven. They want minivans and soccer games and days spent at home watching them grow.
But where do I fall in all of this? I have not once had a desire for motherhood, and I am not alone.
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of women choosing not to have children doubled between the years of 1976 and 2006. Although there has been a minor shift in this trend, the number of women choosing not to have children today is still up 50% since the 1970s.
Granted, I am still young and have my life ahead of me. But shouldn’t I have had, at least once up until this point, just a twinge of wanting a child of my own to raise and care for?
Many would say, “absolutely.” I say, “not at all.”
Our culture is gradually trying to turn away from the stigma of a woman’s purpose is to mother a child. In the Mic article titled, “For Young Women, Not Having Children Has Become the Rational Decision“, Elizabeth Plank states, “Some data even show that young women today focus on their career more than their male counterparts.”
That shift has had a significant impact on women’s family decisions; because young women today rank their career as more important than it has ever been for their demographic, having children has become an option instead of a prerequisite for fulfilling adulthood”.
Despite this blooming idea of motherhood being an option, the stigma that it is a woman’s purpose is still present.
The parents of my boyfriend of over five years make comments about our future children, never having asked if that was something I wanted for my life. I receive constant information about my future education and career and how it will impact me “when I have kids.”
When, not if.
When it comes to having children, I am used to being told rather than asked. It actually never really crossed my mind that living a life without children was an option until high school. I overheard my mother in a conversation state that she didn’t think I would ever end up having kids.
It was at this moment that this path was opened up to me for the first time, and since then I have known that it was probably the right one for me after all.
The problem comes when I decide to share that this is the path I want.
“But you would make a great mother!”
“But doesn’t your boyfriend want kids?”
“I can’t wait for when you do have children.”
“Oh, you’ll change your mind.”
That last one grinds my gears the most. It is almost as if being told that my feelings are not my feelings, or that they aren’t the correct feelings.
Could I change my mind down the road and suddenly decide I would love a child? Of course. But to greet my feelings with a prediction about my sudden change is to invalidate me. I am valid in my thoughts and desires of today, whether they are different than they will be tomorrow.
I am valid as a woman whether I want to bear children or not. I am no less woman if the thought of life inside me terrifies me rather than enthralls me. I am one-hundred percent woman whether I can gracefully play Barbies or read storybooks around a circle.
I am a woman, and that is without the instinct to mother, to nurture, or to care for a child, whether from my own body or not.
I am a woman and I am complete because I am me—and this is a message many of us need to hear.
But, so what if I experience subtle hints of sexism? I am mentally strong enough to combat these beliefs, so it shouldn’t really matter if they persist, right?
In the Psychology Today article titled “The Chain of Bias“, Matt Hudson discusses how experiencing bias against one’s own group can lead to negative perceptions of other “inferior” groups.
In other words, experiencing negative beliefs directed towards the group with which we identify leads us to project negative beliefs on others. In a way, this means that sexism, along with racism, classism, ableism, and beyond are inevitably causing a never-ending cycle of prejudice.
Regardless of whether a woman is directly affected by the stereotypical beliefs and expectations of her, they are certainly affecting her perception of the world around her and its citizens.
Please stop telling me that I’ll want to have kids.
Please stop telling any woman of any age that she will change her mind, that kids are wonderful and will enhance her life like nothing else. Perhaps she wants to experience fulfillment in other ways.
Please cease in furthering the cycle of prejudice against not only my group but countless others.
When I look ahead at my life, I see a bright and shining future filled with nothing short of satisfaction, achievement, and the best possible life for me. I see the hundreds, perhaps thousands of clients that I will see and help heal.
I see the daring adventures I will take, the intimacy and love I will experience, and the many years that will be painted so colorfully. I see a vivid picture of myself achieving everything I ever dreamed of and more.
And yes, I might just change my mind.
But until that day, instead of telling me (or any woman) that we will change our minds when we say that we don’t want kids, learn how to simply say “okay.”
Written by: Danni Huber
Danni is a rising senior at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina studying psychology.
In her free time, you’ll find her singing, writing and playing music, and reciting all the US presidents (in order!) to anyone who will listen.