Monday, January 27, 2014

Women first

I came across this post about women who have husbands and kids (found it here, actually).

For anyone who doesn't know, I'm divorced with no kids. I don't ever plan on having kids. It's not because I can't. It's not because I don't like kids. It's not even because of my career ambitions.

I've chosen not to have children because I think I'd make a lousy mom. I'm too selfish and impatient and immature to put another person's needs above my own for, like, the rest of my life.

People have often disagreed. I've heard, "You'd feel differently if you had a baby," dozens - maybe hundreds - of times.

I appreciate the vote of confidence. But I think that little experiment could be pretty risky. What if I have a child, and then it turns out I was right? Now some poor kid is saddled with the worst mom ever, all because someone thought I should be a mom?

Not acceptable. So instead, I have a cat. We're quite happy.

But just because I've chosen not to have kids doesn't mean I think it's OK to judge or degrade women who chose to be moms. The author of that post said:

We have baby showers and wedding parties as if it’s a huge accomplishment and cause for celebration to be able to get knocked up or find someone to walk down the aisle with. These aren’t accomplishments, they are actually super easy tasks, literally anyone can do them. They are the most common thing, ever, in the history of the world.

Is she nuts? I'll agree that finding someone to marry isn't that tough a task. Certainly, getting pregnant is no terrific accomplishment (in many cases, though I do know women who struggled to have children).

But we don't celebrate a woman having a wedding, or a baby. We celebrate a woman becoming a wife or a mother. A woman devoting her life to one person. A woman agreeing to put someone else's best interests ahead of her own. A woman vowing to love someone else until she dies - no matter what stupid crap he pulls. A woman taking on the monumental task of molding and shaping a child into, like, a whole person. Remembering to feed him everyday, and everything.

Those are not easy or common. At all.

Now - I'll admit plenty of celebrated marriages end in divorce [waves] and plenty of lousy moms get a shower. The point is, we're celebrating the intent, even if actual results may vary.

If someone does actually manage to be a good mom - she totally earned that party. If someone manages to stay married to the same guy for decades, without killing (or at least maming) him... the very least she deserves is some new dishes.

The writer goes on to say:

You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.

OK - that's just rude, in addition to being totally wrong. Some of the strongest women I know are moms (or soon will be). They are beautiful, exceptional, vital women who contribute more in most days than I bet this author could dare dream in a year.

I also know women without kids who just skate by. They offer very little of value, and accomplish nothing exceptional.

Of course, this goes both ways. Many times us non-moms are judged because of our choice. We're told we can't possibly understand, we don't know what "real" busy is, or we're all selfish people who hate kids and do nothing for anyone else.

My personal favorite is that my life must be "empty" without kids or a husband.

So - as it turns out, all moms aren't "common" and all non-moms aren't exceptional. Wives can be judgy and selfish, and non-wives can be caring and altruistic. So how are we supposed to tell anyone apart?!

Stop generalizing. Stop assigning women to types based on their choices or circumstances.

Start respecting differences. Start learning from others' experiences.

Most of all, stop tearing each other down. It does nothing to help us as women - and we're all women first.


  1. This was an extremely well-written post. As a woman with no husband or children, I definitely respected and enjoyed it!

  2. I am lovin you Sue !!! Great post.