Why Having Kids Won’t Fulfill You by M. Guido
by Maria Guido
Jennifer Aniston, take note. You haven’t failed as a woman if you don’t have kids.
I was struck by the comments Jennifer Aniston made to Allure magazine this week about the badgering she gets on a topic that she finds painful: her lack of children.
She tells the magazine: “I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women – that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated. I don’t think it’s fair. You may not have a child come out of your vagina, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t mothering — dogs, friends, friends’ children.”
For Aniston, 45, the topic is fraught with emotion. “Even saying it gets me a little tight in my throat,” she said.
I thought about Aniston’s comments—what many women in their early 40s without children are forced to feel—and then I thought about my own life. In some respects I’m Aniston’s exact opposite: I’m a 41-year-old mother of two who spent my entire adult life telling myself that children were my destiny.
I did what society and my family expected, never questioning the choice. But sometimes I wonder how much of the blueprint of my life was drawn by me, and how much was sketched by experiences I had when I was way too young to be the architect of my own destiny.
…My life changed [after I had a baby] — but only the daily tasks. I was still working full-time. Once we added a baby, the only difference was we now had no downtime.
I was not a new person. I was the woman I had always been, I just added another label to my list of identifiers: friend, photographer, bartender, girlfriend, writer, mother. I reached the endgame, and nothing about myself had changed — save my ability to multitask.
….Had we continued having infertility issues and not been able to conceive, I am certain that I would have felt that there was something “missing” from my life. But only because I believed the narrative my mother sold – that children bring fulfillment.
Since I’ve become a mother and seen that the essence of what makes me who I am has not changed, I’ve learned that nothing outside of you can fulfill you. Fulfillment is all about how you perceive the fullness or emptiness of your life.
But how can a woman feel fulfilled if she’s constantly being told her life is empty without children? How can she ever feel certain she’s made the right decision if society is second-guessing her constantly?
…There is nothing wrong or incomplete about building a life with a partner or alone, unburdened by the added stress of keeping another human being alive. This is something that men have always been allowed – women, not so much. A woman is constantly reminded of the ticking time bomb that is her biological clock. We don’t believe that a life without children is something a woman could possibly want.