Famous Last Words

by V

via Flickr

Has anyone ever heard this phrase before? I’m willing to bet that if you have, you’re probably female. And it was probably after you said you were never getting married or you were never going to have kids, or both.

Even today, with as far as our society has come so far, it still has further to go. Women are still viewed as baby factories. Nobody believes it if you say that you aren’t going to have children. They come up with annoying little things to tell you that they don’t, too! Such as the one I used for the title of this piece.

I’m someone who really is not interested in ever getting married or having children. But, right now, I’m going to focus on the having kids part, because that seems to be the strangest out of the two for people to hear. They just can’t believe that a girl wouldn’t want to have children.

Women, and even young girls, are constantly under pressure to have children one day. I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve heard women say that all of their friends were having children, so they felt pressure not to be the last one to have a child.

I’m sorry, but what a ridiculous reason to have a baby. A baby is a lifetime commitment. It is not a pick-me-up. It is not a fashion accessory or a trend statement. A baby is a responsibility for life. I cannot stress this enough! You should have a child only when you want to have a child and when you’re ready to have a child. Not before. And certainly not just because your parents think that it’s time you did, that your parents-in-law think you should, that your friends think you should or because your friends are all having children of their own. These things should not influence you, because you shouldn’t be having children to please other people.

Despite all of this, women still seem to feel immense pressure to conform and follow the example of their friends or relatives. There is very little support for women who don’t want children. They are constantly insulted or patronized.

For some reason, people say that women who don’t want to have children are being selfish. I’m not exactly sure how this constitutes selfishness. As though knowing that you don’t want to or will not be up to the responsibility that comes along with having and raising children is a bad thing. I have quite a lot of trouble believing that one! There are women who have children and cannot provide for them. I think it’s more selfish to have a child when you know that you can’t take care of one. Whether it’s to have something to love and nurture, or to have something to love you unconditionally, or to have something to occupy your time, these are not good reasons to have children. Yet, these are all reasons I’ve heard from women who mention that they want children, or who give reasons for why they had their children in the first place.

For some reason people seem to feel the need to “set a woman straight” if she says she doesn’t ever want children. I certainly am not a mind reader, but I think for some reason they feel as if their own choice to have children (whether they already have or whether it/s a future goal) is somehow invalidated by a woman who doesn’t want to have children. I don’t really buy the idea that they just want all women to “share in the joy” of motherhood. If that were so, I doubt people would get upset enough to accuse a woman who didn’t want to have children of being selfish. These women need to stop a moment and think about how some women never having children doesn’t make another woman’s choice to have children any less important. If that was the choice you wanted to make and that was what you felt was right for you, it can’t be invalidated by someone else simply not wanting to do the same.

Another thing people love to say is that women were made to have children. People are confusing the ability to do something with the necessity to do it. Just because you can jump off of a bridge doesn’t mean that you have the responsibility to actually do it. Just because something is biologically possible doesn’t mean a damn thing. And considering overpopulation, I really don’t think it would be a bad thing, by any stretch of the imagination, for some women to just not have children if that’s what they choose. The planet, and certainly America, isn’t like a small Amazon village with a tiny number of members, where you have to have children or worry for the continuance of your people. The only way we’d have to worry about that is if births stopped completely. Just because women have the choice doesn’t mean they’ll automatically all choose at the same time never to have children. That’s ridiculous. Women do not share a collective mind.

Also, the idea that all women have a built-in maternal instinct or biological clock is one that I often hear. While this might be true for many women, it is not true for all women. I don’t know if it scares some people to acknowledge this, or what, but, some people seem intent on refusing to believe that some women do not.

I, myself, do not think I have this maternal instinct of which so many speak. And, I do not now, nor have I ever, longed for a baby, and I will be 25 this year. That might sound young (and it is!), but this is the time when most women seem to begin having children. I still have never felt the hands of my biological clock even begin to wiggle. What’s more, this does not bother me. However, it is annoying to hear people say, “Oh, that’s what you say now, but just wait and see~!” and give a little wink or a sly grin, as if they’ve looked into the future and seen something I don’t know about, yet. The only thing this accomplishes is to make my eye twitch and my lip curl in disgust.

I might be a woman, but that doesn’t mean that I have any more responsibility to have a child in this day and age than I have the responsibility to eat a whole raw onion just because I have the ability to feed myself.

7 Comments to “Famous Last Words”

  1. Good post and I agree with your opinion that obligation should not motivate a decision to have children.

    I think that the “little wink” or “sly grin” comes because so many of us have been there before and the profundity of the change on a life after children is complete. That is not to say that one woman’s experience could ever predict that of another.

    What I hate more than “famous last words” is “I told you so”. If my opinion changes then I want acceptance for my growth, not a patronizing verbal pat. You may have children one day… it’s true that “I never want children” spoken at 25 are famous last words, but if you ever do change your mind I hope those closest to you will celebrate and not gloat. Both statements are rude though.

    I will say, as a mother I enjoy my children getting older much more than I enjoyed the baby stage. Check out what I mean in my latest post.

    • The very idea of having children makes my skin crawl. :p So, I doubt that I will change my mind. However, if I ever did decide to, I’d also hope that those around me would be supportive, as well. But, knowing my family the way that I do, I am more likely to get the gloating instead. Oh well. :p

      I don’t really think that change of opinion necessarily constitutes growth, though. Nor does it constitute a lack thereof, either. Nor do I think that one needs to have children in order to be complete…but, if that isn’t what you meant by that, then I’m sorry for misunderstanding!!

      There are always people who say they’ll never have children and then change there minds later. Especially when they’re young (like I am) and say it. But, there are also a lot of people who do not. I think that whatever someone chooses that’s great! For them. 🙂

      Patronization is the most irritate form of communication, as far as I’m concerned, so I certainly agree with you on that one!

      My mother was just the opposite of you, she was more interested in babies than older children. :p

      The little wink or the sly grin will always communicate to me patronizing, however. I will always be unable to detach that from it. Its like telling me that my opinion is childish and that they have a crystal ball that tells them I will, in fact, one day have children and they will be there to remind me that I told them I would not when it happens. And knowing my family, that’s exactly what they mean.

      • What still baffles me is why it’s such a big deal for them to be right about it. Your mom may want you to have kids but why should she triumph if you do?

        I think it’s perfectly reasonable to not want kids at all, and especially when you yourself are still young. I wish someone were collecting data on how many women change their minds on this point, when, and why. I understand doctors who are unwilling to grant very young womens, as it can be heartbreaking to be unable to have children when you want to. However, being unable to carry a child of your own is far less of a problem than someone who rushes to have children and then regrets it. You can’t take that back.

        I wonder if the intense distress linked with infertility will lessen as women become more comfortable with a wider range of lifestyle options. Many women who have had hysterctomies or mastectomies feel as though part of what makes them women has been taken away. Infertility is like that, it seems to nullify part of what makes us, us.

        For the record, I’ve always wanted to be a mom, and I in no way feel threatened by your not wanting to be one. 🙂

  2. Excellent, excellent post.
    I wish I could say more than just “brava”, but I can’t.

    I’m glad you’ve got the balls to say things I’m sure a million women are thinking but would never dare to say.

    • Thank you! I don’t know exactly where I got my outspokenness. My mother can be, but not the way I am. I kind of think I got it from my grandfather, he would tell you what he thought, when he thought, and that was it. :p And I grew up around that, so I guess maybe that’s where I get it. Either way, its important to share such views. I think there are a good deal of women who think that they’re alone in this, “I don’t want kids” thing and there aren’t a whole lot of women out there who seem to be publicly sharing their support, understanding, and even sharing the fact that they, too, don’t want to be mothers. There are women who do, but I think the count is kind of low. So, if I can be one more, why not? :p

  3. You’re right-on with this article— but you always are, V! Even when I don’t agree with you (now isn’t that a trip, ehh?) I agree with you… although, I do want to have kids someday. I just don’t want to give birth to them… my gift to the world is NOT reproducing XP!

    As for the maternal instinct argument, it is just as true for men as it is for women— except that when a man admits he cares about his kids, he is expected to do it in a violent or aggressive way (such as by threatening anyone who hurts his “little girl.”) Now isn’t that a contradiction? When a man expresses his love for his family in non-violent or peaceful ways (being sensitive, being a stay-at-home-dad), he is called gay/sissy/and any other words that use femininity as an insult. Most people who have had the privilege of having a strong man in their lives know that men care about their kids too, and would do anything to protect their children. If that’s not “instinct,” what is?

    The biological clock, on the other hand, is a concept that confuses medical realities with personal choice. Yes, there is a limited amount of time available for women to pop out babies. However, that does not mean all women need or want to pop out babies, and that adoption isn’t an option.

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