The decision to have kids is heavily complicated by societal (read: patriarchal) pressures. So when I finally told my friends that I don’t want kids, I wasn’t just surprised by their support – I was taken aback by their intense, borderline offensive sighs of relief.
No woman should be pressured into wanting to be a mother, but every woman deserves to be told they’d naturally be such a great mom. We grow up being told not just that motherhood is inherent to womanhood, but that having a baby is a woman’s most important achievement (even though plucking stubborn ingrown hairs literally exists). So when I bravely announced that I don’t plan to meet society’s expectations of motherhood, why did it look like a giant weight had been lifted from my so-called friends’ shoulders?
The simple fact is, not everyone feels their biological clock ticking away. I don’t want to hear that I’ll “grow out of it” or “change my mind.” At the same time, it’s common courtesy to tell me I’m totally cut out for the whole mom thing. But as soon as the words “no kids for me” left my mouth, in my friends I could see the bursting of a great dam, allowing a river of pure relief to finally run free and wash over all of us at the brunch table. Like, it’s one thing to tell me I’m making the right choice; it’s another to start literally toasting your mimosas to the news that I won’t be responsible for a human life.
Cheers, I guess?
I was prepared to feel as if my decision would need to be endlessly justified, rather than simply accepted. But I didn’t even get to dive into my list of valid reasons to not want kids, from the financial strain, to the fast-approaching consequences of climate change, to the fact that most (if not all) children can be rotten little things. Before I could get to any of that, my friends began clutching each other, kissing the ground, and wiping away the tears of joy streaming down their faces. When they insisted I call my own mother and tell her the “good news” on speakerphone, I had to hear the person who brought me into the world whooping and hollering that I wouldn’t be “making the same mistake she did.” I don’t want to read too much into it, but I had the sneakiest suspicion that my friends and my mom had potentially discussed this behind my back before.
Now I’m left wondering: Am I being reverse-psychology-ed? Do I want to have kids after all – if for no other reason than to prove my shady friends wrong?
At the end of the day, the decision to become a parent is a deeply personal one – society be damned! Still, after my friends’ response, I’m left questioning if they even take me seriously as the self-proclaimed “mom friend.”