It’s no secret that we tend to choose our friends based on who we have things in common with. We like to share visions of our personal and professional goals with people who are similarly striving for achievements, and meeting people who are working toward the same goals you are can be inspiring in many ways. Most of the stuff of adulthood requires that we structure our lives in certain ways in order to make room for what we want. I have friends who are like me and have just started their families while leveraging their time to push themselves forward professionally. I also have some friends who are steadfast in singlehood and enjoy booze cruises, vacation hookups, and catching bouquets at weddings. I have friends who bury themselves in their work and only come up for air around major holidays, and I also have friends who are still trying to figure out what it is they want to do in life. I love them all just the same.
Most of my female friends have the same picture of adulthood that I do, in that if they’re not married yet, they hope to one day be, and if they are married, they hope to have children with their spouse. It’s often an assumed step that for married couples, planning to produce children is the next logical step. However, not all married couples have this conversation. Not all adults dream of having children, and more importantly: not all women want to be mothers.
This reality can hit us mothers like an earthquake because those friends we were undergrads with who went on to start careers similar to ours, bought homes in the neighborhoods close to ours, and who we still enjoy spending time with suddenly become so different from us, or at least they seem that way. Women who don’t want kids aren’t so different. Many of them love children; they just don’t want any of their own. They are not in any way lacking in compassion or femininity; their choice reflects preference. It’s also unfair to imply that a childless woman somehow lives in regret as she creeps through her 40s and 50s at what could have been. We cannot base womanhood solely on the presence of offspring because what do we then call women who are unable to bear their own children? Yeah. Exactly.
So, to conclude, I want to give many thanks to all of the aunties, big sisters, and unofficial surrogates who gladly and wholeheartedly do so much for our children, but do not envision themselves in the role of mommy. The beauty of feminism is that it grants a woman the right to choose, and some women happily choose to forgo having kids.