I recently read a book titled “Kid me not”. It contains a number of essays from women who are a part of the first generation to access the pill who have remained child free whether by choice or circumstance. Some knew they did not want to have kids from the get go, some couldn’t and others were so busy doing the things that they wanted to do and by the time they slowed down and even thought of it, it was too late. The one thing that ties all these stories together is that they do not have any regrets about their choice or circumstance. Before you jump and buy the book I would just like to say that it is not going to win any literary awards. What it is, is a collection of real stories about real women that we can learn from. Women who stepped away from the expectations of motherhood. It was not that they did not face questions and criticisms about their choices but in the end everyone is happy with the choices they made or the circumstances they found themselves in.
There was a recent article in The Guardian which stated that the pope had said that choosing not to have children is selfish. Does that mean that he is selfish? Does it mean that persons who do not have the finances and/or support to properly take care of a child who choose not to have one for the sake of said child is selfish? Is it selfish to want the best for your child and knowing that you cannot provide it, decide against having a child selfish?
The pill is still available as are a number of other forms of birth control. Some women in the world are liberated and free to do what it is they want to do with their bodies. Some choose to be childless and others whether by choice or circumstance find themselves parents. What has remained, at least in Jamaica from where I am standing, is the fact that persons (both male and female) feel that it is ok to question, criticize, and basically tell you when you should go about reproducing whether they know (and most times they do not) about your circumstances, your plans etc. “Everybody” feels that they can chime in with their 5 cents and “everyone” feels like they know what is right for you. I do not ask anyone when they are getting married or having children. That is their business until they decide to include me in a conversation initiated by them.
Invariably in speaking with child free women the question will come up as to why they are child free and whether they intend to change that status at all. But why does it matter? Regardless of what anyone else may think the decision to reproduce is solely that of the woman and man who will be doing the reproducing (or the woman if she decided to use a sperm donor and go it alone). Only those two people (or one person) know their circumstances, whether they are financially ready, mentally ready, physically ready, etc. And before anyone jumps down my throat, I am not saying that I believe that it is okay or right for women to go it alone by choice, but it is an option and let’s face it, there are many women in that position who did not go to a clinic to get inseminated who are going it alone by circumstance.
Personally speaking, today, I am not ready in many “-allys”. I do not like babies. I wish they could come out at least at age 2 when they can “back chat” you. That I can handle. Also I do not necessarily think that babies are extra cuter that anything else like puppies and the like. Society expects you be all googly-eyed whenever babies are in the room and be all nurturing and all that. I think I take a different view when it comes to nurturing but I play along with the expected norms when I have to.
Could a baby fit into the way my life currently operates without me feeling that my child is being short-changed? The answer to that is no. In some respects I like my life the way it is and in some respects I do not like my life the way it is. Both these scenarios mean that I am not ready, right now today, to have a baby. Can I change the way my life currently operates? Yes. Am I ready to change that? Not right now. I am not into doing things half-assed, especially things that matter and being a parent has got to rank high up there on the list of things that matter.
Am I saying I will never have children? No. Am I saying it will be a while before I choose to? Maybe not. The practical thing health-wise for both mother and baby is to not wait until you are too old. So I may just decide to be practical. I made myself a promise about a particular situation I did not want to be in pregnant. I am trying my best to keep it because often when you break promises to yourself you just f*@# yourself right up. Until then I am grateful to have an understanding spouse who understands how I think and who knows that sometimes you just have to let time take care of some things and that you cannot be pushy.
Child free women, more power to you!