I always knew I wanted to have kids. Same as I imagine other women always knew they didn’t want kids. I don’t really see the difference. We know what we know about ourselves and yet society still stigmatizes women who don’t want to be mothers. It’s as if all women are born to have children and should be mothers, and any decision otherwise is strange or dismissible. How many times have we heard, “she’s just going through a phase” when a woman says motherhood isn’t for them?
Why is it like that? I don’t know. But it’s not fair to all the women who are prescient enough to know that children aren’t in their future. Bri Seeley is one of those women. In an article for The Huffington Post she writes, “I’ve always known. While all my friends were playing dolls growing up, I wanted to play classroom and be the teacher, or dress up my Barbies in all the best fashions to be the most powerful women ever.”
Just as I knew with a absolute clarity at 16 that I wanted children, Seeley knew she did not. At 24 she began asking her doctor if she could be sterilized but her doctor refused. Just as family members and friends told Seeley, the doctor said she’d change her mind. “It was as if my opinions somehow weren’t important because they didn’t align with the lives women were supposed to want,” Seeley says.
After six solid years of asking to be sterilized as opposed to continuing to take birth control, Seeley side-stepped her physician and got the procedure done elsewhere. That was years ago and she doesn’t regret it. Do we expect her to regret it? Because it’s so difficult to fathom someone would choose not to be a mother? Just because we’re all born with the biology to give birth doesn’t mean we’re all meant to be mothers. I’m physically capable of running a marathon but I know without question that I don’t want to do so. We don’t bat an eye anymore when a 16-year-old gives birth but a 26-year-old asking to be sterilized doesn’t know what she’s doing? Ridiculous!
As Isabel Geerer comments on Seeley’s article, “I am a person who works with children and it is heartbreaking how many women who never wanted to be mothers have gone against their own wishes and went ahead and had them anyway. You would be shocked by how many children I have cared for whose mothers have actually told me they never wanted children. We have enough children. Only have one if you want one.”
Women should never feel pressure to be mothers. Being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it most certainly isn’t for everyone. Every mother should realize this and laud those women who instinctively know motherhood isn’t for them. It isn’t easy to go against the grain of society, especially when its views on women without children are so antiquated. We need to to stop assuming all women are meant to be or want to be mothers and presuming there is something strange about them or that they’ll change their mind when they vocalize their choice. As Seely notes, “Becoming a mother is a personal decision that all women have the right to decide for themselves without external influence or societal pressure.”
Image courtesy of ThinkStock