BY AMY HILL
By the time you enter your mid-twenties, you start noticing that many of your friends from high school and college are pregnant or have had children, while you’re still eating Taco Bell at midnight and binge-watching every season of Vanderpump Rules for the fifth time. You start to question your life trajectory and suddenly you become aware of your ticking biological clock. It becomes harder to make plans with friends who are married and have families of their own, which means spending many more nights swiping on dating apps or ordering takeout and crying on your couch. It seems like you should be on track to settle down and start a family, but it’s just not what you see or want for yourself.
You see children crying and pitching fits in restaurants, and you’re relieved that the tantrum is not your problem. In fact, you struggle to understand why everyone seems to “ooh” and “ahh” over every baby they see while you remain cool-headed. Society expects women to be maternal and gush over children, so what exactly is your problem? Are you a bad person because you don’t want to hold your coworker’s baby and can’t seem to connect with every child you meet? Will you be considered less of a woman if you never become a mother?
The truth is, the societal pressure is not all in your head. In fact, it may be genetically hardwired into you as a female. A woman’s fertility, or ability to get pregnant, begins to decline after age 30. It’s possible that years of evolution have conditioned women to start feeling pressure to seriously consider having children as they enter their mid-to-late twenties, as opposed to solely feeling pressured by seeing their peers post on social media about their child’s first day of pre-school. Feeling the pressure to have children may be confusing to women who have no desire to be mothers. Lots of women may balk at the idea of a young woman expressing that she doesn’t want kids, and many even insist that she will change her mind one day. In reality, she may not change her mind – and that’s okay!
Instead of viewing yourself as problematic for not always having a favorable view of children, there is something to be said for going against the grain. Having children because you “should” rather than because you genuinely desire them, may cause resentment and poor parenting and coping skills down the road. Being an unhappy mother does not create a healthy environment for child-rearing. We’ve all seen (or heard about) the movie Mommy Dearest, and although wire hangers are not as prevalent anymore, no one wants to see the film played out in real life.
Women may not be programmed for worrying about their teenager missing curfew on the weekends, but that does not mean these same women cannot excel in the workplace or have successful relationships. Becoming a parent requires selflessness, and a lot of women go into parenthood without having a clear understanding of what they’re signing up for.
Many women, however, believe that there are still too many countries to explore, too many promotions to earn, or too many mission trips to go on before they are able to put 100 percent of their time and energy into starting a family. While some women are amazing mothers, some women are amazing pet owners. If you don’t want children of your own, that doesn’t mean you can’t be the world’s greatest cat mom or the coolest aunt to your nieces and nephews. You can always bring them back souvenirs from your recent trip to Machu Picchu and enjoy all the time you spend with them, but also enjoy the luxury of handing them back to your siblings when the tantrums start!