Recently, a newly married friend of mine confessed to me that she never plans to have children. When she told me, she kind of winced a little, as if she was waiting for me to respond in anger. When I pressed her a little to see why she was so nervous to share her plans with me, she explained that moms seem to have the hardest time with the news that a woman of childbearing age has no plans to have kids.
She didn’t have to convince me, because I have seen it myself. I have heard moms gossip about another woman. I have heard women of all ages express their beliefs that women who choose to remain child-free are selfish, immature or have misplaced priorities.
Honestly, I think many moms feel threatened when it appears that the choice they have made for their own life isn’t embraced by other women. It’s as if one woman’s choice invalidates their own, simply because she hasn’t chosen the exact same thing. If you watch closely enough, you see this all of the time. A cloth diapering mom gets a little too aggressive defending her choice to a mom who prefers disposables. A formula-feeding mom finds a reason to shame a breastfeeding mom because she feels she has to defend the choice she made for her child.
While some may see choosing a childless life as immature, I believe there is nothing more mature than a woman who knows herself well enough to confidently stick with her convictions.
We should do a better job celebrating the really awesome women we know who decide to remain child-free. As someone who intentionally started a family at a very young age and who is now expecting her third, I know just how it important it is to be totally on board with being a mom. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a mother and even I find myself wondering if motherhood is really for me. Being a mom is hard, but I can’t imagine how much harder it would be if you felt pressured by societal expectations to become a mom.
That is why I can celebrate any woman's plans to stay child-free.
As a friend to several childless women, I know that purposefully choosing that lifestyle is way more complex than wanting to have freedom or not liking kids. I know the reasons a woman makes this choice vary greatly from woman to woman and that they are incredibly personal. Some women have chosen to focus their life on another purpose, others feel they would be better suited for another task. While some may see choosing a childless life as immature, I believe there is nothing more mature than a woman who knows herself well enough to confidently stick with her convictions.
As a mom, I really value how I spend my days. I know that what I am doing is important. I know that raising children with character has value because I hope they will grow up to be compassionate and generous adults one day. But here’s the thing, just because I value motherhood so much, doesn’t mean I believe it is the be-all and end-all for every woman. Instead, I firmly believe there are a whole lot of important, world-changing ways women can live their lives.
Everywhere I turn, I am overwhelmed by all the good there is to be done in our world. There are so many ways I would like to help or make the world a better place, but most of the time I have to say no because much of my time is devoted to my children. It is so important that there are really incredible, child-free women who are devoting their lives to something other than raising children.
That is why I think moms everywhere should be supporting women who choose a different path for their life. Our world needs women who are capable of doing world-changing things. For some, that is raising really amazing child; for others that means writing an amazing novel or serving as a social worker or a doctor. Most importantly, the world needs women who are lifting each other up and supporting them in the endeavors to do good in the world, and that is why we should celebrate one another.