This was the question I was often plagued with as I first hit my 20’s and then my 30’s. It was never a clear YES and it brought up so many questions about who I was as a woman if I didn’t have children. Did it mean I was worthy of the title? Was I not creating or contributing to society if I didn’t have children? More importantly, was I missing out on something vital to make life more joyful?
I remember having a client a few years back and her wanting to work with me 1-on-1 because she said she wanted to get pregnant. When I asked her why she wanted to have children she gave me a blank stare. I shifted the question and said: “What joy do you hope to gain by having children in your life?”. It felt like she had never considered this question in the 5 years of trying to have children. Instead it was about pleasing her parents and her husband and all her friends, which seemed to all be able to have children really easily. It was almost as if she wanted to prove something to them and perhaps herself that there wasn’t something wrong with her. Perhaps it simply wasn’t a consideration that it was ultimately still a choice and simply what women do.
Not having children can be really confronting. I was at a party and all the women there had at least one child. They were all talking about their schools and the challenging of having a kid in school who wasn’t performing etc. I listened but of course couldn’t contribute. One of the women in the group was foreign – I think she was from Brazil or Argentina. She looked directly at me and asked me if I had children. I of course responded with: “no we never had children”. Her first response wasn’t to ask me if this was my choice but rather, it was a statement that really struck me. She said: “Oh shame, were you not able to conceive?” She then went onto a long story about a friend of hers who was struggling to conceive and then suggested I could adopt etc. etc.
She never for a second considered that maybe I simply didn’t want children. She assumed I was in some way unable or broken. That what else could a woman possibly do with herself if she doesn’t have children? That our entire value is demonstrated by ability to have children and how can we have a family if we don’t have children?
I stumbled across a YouTube video about Jennifer Aniston and how she got so tired of being confronted with the “when are you having a baby?” question that she eventually had to write for the Huffington Post about her personal choice on whether she has children or not. Her statement in her Huffington Post article really struck me:
“the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children”
Of course the best bit of the piece:
“We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies.”
So, I know this is a confronting topic but I wonder if this is a question you have genuinely asked yourself. Do you truly want children? Do you know what the commitment really entails?
How far are you prepared to go to have a child and get pregnant? Is the cost – both financially and emotionally truly worth it?
Here is a more important question… do you feel that your life would be incomplete if you didn’t have children? Would you feel like less of a woman if you didn’t have children?
Dig a little deeper here because why do we as women feel that our value is so closely attached to being able to have children? Hmmmm
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below…