My Decision On Having Kids: How people respond to a woman who may choose to remain childless
I wish I could tell you that my reproductive decisions are my own and leave it at that. But the truth is that I am personally reminded of how untrue this is quite often, so I don’t have the luxury of staying silent for your comfort.
We all have stories to tell because the decisions made from this point on are about all women and our right (or loss of our rights) to make decisions about our bodies and our lives as a whole. I want to share my story in hopes that it shines a light on how women are told, in different ways, that they don’t have the ability or right to handle the decisions regarding their body.
It never bothers me if people ask if I have kids or even if I want kids. What DOES bother me is what often comes next; the need to tell me what I should do with my body and insinuate that I am not capable of making my own decisions. Reproductive decisions are HIGHLY sensitive and personal for women, yet people believe they have a right to get in the decision making process.
Think of it this way: Two people fall in love, get married, tell people they want to have kids, and then EVERYONE questions why the hell they want to have kids?!? Oh wait, that never happens. But you see I fell in love, got married and we don’t foresee a future (at this point) that includes kids, and EVERYONE questions that. Questions that are frankly personal, inappropriate, and imply that I don’t know what is best for my body and my life. I want to share some of these questions/comments and my responses to them. My hope is that it opens dialogue and provokes more thought about how we approach women in concern to their reproductive choices.
What are you going to do with your life if you don’t have kids? Live it. Do what I want, when I want. I will continue to live a life I am proud of and see where the road takes me and my husband. I will continue to be worthy. To be adventurous, and generous, and helpful, and hopeful. To be open to changing my mind in the future. To not worry about anyone else’s idea of what our life should look like but to live for ourselves. To make my own decisions about my own body. “The decision of whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, well-being, and dignity (RBG).” And to that point I will continue to do what is in my best interests.
You don’t know what you are missing out on: You are 100% correct, I don’t know, but you don’t know either. Your life experience is yours. Just as mine is mine. But I won’t be telling you that you are missing out on a world of wonderful things because you chose to have children. I don’t believe my only purpose in this world was to give birth, but also I don’t care if having kids is your deepest desire in life. That’s the beauty of worrying about your own life and not being concerned with others’; you make the best choice for you not for anyone else. You learn that everyone makes choices based on their needs not society’s wants.
Women are meant to have kids (yes, I have been told this): Was I? Says who? Never mind. This is likely based on some religious belief you have and guess what? I don’t believe that. Jesus never mentioned I was born to have children, he never proclaimed that women were only put here to procreate. In fact, he was one of the first elevate women beyond these societal constraints, so don’t use him against me. Also, your religion is yours, not mine. Why do you think you have the right to make decisions for me based on your beliefs? What I was meant for is the path I am currently on, if that leads to kids so be it, if it doesn’t I am going to be just fine.
Does your husband know about this decision? (A personal favorite): Only if he reads this blog! Come the eff on! Yes he knows and guess what? He feels the same. Weird I know a marriage where people communicate large decisions and come to a conclusion. THE TRAVESTY! Guess who he also sees me take birth control every day? You guessed it, my husband! Scandalous shit happening in this household.
You see the problem with all these questions and assumptions placed on me, someone who is currently choosing not to have children, is part of a much larger problem. A large part of society has been led to believe that having children is in fact exactly what women were put here for. And if we are meant to procreate then ‘the how’ and ‘when’ of that must be controlled. People have let scare tactics and religious misinterpretation lead to fearful assumptions. These lead to not allowing women to make their own decisions about their own bodies. This is where you need to check our motives; if you start from the frame of mind that all women must have children you will always come at every situation involving a woman and HER decision about pregnancy from the wrong starting point. And you will start to allow laws that restrict a woman’s right to choose, from beginning to end, including restricting birth control and access to safe healthcare. You will no longer see the woman as a person, just a ‘vessel’ to carry children. You will believe that you know better than physicians, science, and facts, and you simply do not.
I make a decision every day to prevent pregnancy. I am lucky to have access to birth control. I am lucky to have an OBGYN I can make decisions with. I am lucky that, for now, I get to make my own decision about my own body and about what is right for me during this time of my life. I am a human. I am a capable being. I am a woman who understands her body and her needs. I am a person who is smart, intelligent, and learning as she goes. The truth is I may change my mind, and I may not, but the MOST important truth is that it is none of your damn business either way.
So my advice is this: no matter the situation, when you feel the deep burning desire to insert yourself in to someone’s uterus, whether personally or politically, do the world and a favor and DON’T! There are women out there struggling to have kids and people make them feel like less. There are women who have miscarried and need support they never receive because we won’t allow them to talk about it. There are women who simply choose not to have children. There are mothers who feel complete because they have kids, and women who feel complete because they don’t. We don’t live in boxes anymore. We don’t have to be anything we don’t want to be. It makes us no less of a woman. The next time you think you have the right to ask a woman about her private, personal, reproductive life, think before you speak, and then stop before you try to tell her what to do.