Bearden: Staying childless right decision for many women
Excerpt from first part:
- By Michelle Bearden
Published: December 21, 2013
Yes, I’ve been asked that question from time to time. I’ve always found it a little rude, the presumption that all women are expected to have children, and if you don’t, surely something must be wrong with you. Womanhood equals motherhood, right?
It wasn’t anything I planned. I simply never had that maternal urge. It struck just once, for about five minutes in my early 40s. “Oh, I forgot to have children!” I said, undoubtedly after a couple of glasses of wine. “Is there still time?”
But that moment passed quickly. I surveyed my household, which at the time didn’t include a permanent man. I had a dog and two cats, a fabulous career, a wide network of friends and a loving and close extended family. This was enough for me.
I didn’t feel a big gaping hole in my life, nor did I feel any less a woman because I had never given birth. In fact, the whole pregnancy-and-birth thing scared the heck out of me. And knowing that having a child is a lifelong commitment — it does not end when the child hits 21, as evidenced by all of my peers whose adult children are still living at home or need financial help — seemed equally frightening.
Perhaps my parents were unwittingly responsible for my lack of progeny. For a long time, there were three daughters, separated by seven years in all. Then when I was 16, my mother got pregnant — an “oops” baby, they called it back then. We looked so much alike that I could pass her off as my daughter. I did just that, on many occasions.
My little sis wasn’t even in kindergarten when I left for college. When Little Sister Weekend arrived, my roommates were sneaking their visiting younger offspring into bars. I was heading to Chuck E. Cheese with my little mini-me. Instead of going to the football game, we went to a park to play on the monkey bars.
Thirty years ago, I might have felt like an oddity. Not so much anymore. In the ‘70s, only 1 in 10 women was child-free; these days, it’s 1 in 5. A recent Time magazine article noted that the birth rate is now the lowest in recorded American history. And from 2007 to 2011, it declined by 9 percent. I never considered that my decision to bypass motherhood would actually end up being semi-trendy, but there you have it. Increasingly, more women are opting out of motherhood, either by choice or by default.
That doesn’t make us selfish monsters. I love kids. Other people’s kids. I love, love, love being an aunt.
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(Link): Totally Obnoxious Parent: Childless Couple Who Donates to Childrens Charities Lambasted by Snotty Adult Sister for Not Showering Her Kids with Christmas Presents – Parents Who Discriminate Against the Childless or Childfree