I know that we’ve already gotten to know each other some, lovely blog readers, but let me elaborate a little on the “basics of me”. I am a twenty-one year old senior at James Madison University, and I’m in the Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication program here. That means that upon graduation, I could essentially do a whole host of jobs…if I get lucky enough to score just the right interview with just the right interviewer. I have talents and skills, sure, and I’m a pretty good writer, if I do say so myself. But, sometimes it just doesn’t happen for good writers with talents and skills. Sometimes they have to go back to school and learn a little more, or they have to push really, really hard to make it in the writing world.
Some more about me: I am also in a long term relationship with my partner. Our second anniversary is coming up in the next couple of months, and I don’t foresee him (or myself) going anywhere, anytime soon. We’re pretty devoted to each other, and we agree on most of the “big issues” like politics, where we might like to live (once we finally have enough money to buy a house), and my personal favorites – the roles of two consenting adults in a respectful and honest relationship. This includes gender roles, or rather the lack thereof. We also agree on the fact that, right now, neither of us wants children. That isn’t to say that we won’t want children someday faaaaarrrrrr in the future. Currently, however, neither of us particularly wants them. It’s just not in the cards.
This brings me back to thinking about my career as a writer. Just in a broader context, if I want to advance my career at the speed that I envision myself advancing…well, I won’t really be able to swing motherhood. I want a career. I want to make a name for myself, or make some kind of a difference. I would like to make at least enough money to be comfortable.
That being said, it really isn’t true that I can’t do all of that and have kids as well. I could. However, depending on the number of (theoretical) kids I would have, I could be out of the workforce anywhere from 5-10 years! I really don’t want to do that. I don’t want to get so behind that I am competing with 22 year olds, fresh out of college, at the age of 30. Frankly, that would freakin’ suck. Also, remember how I said I’d like to make enough money to be comfortable? Considering that women are making about seventy cents for every man’s dollar already…well, I need the biggest jump start I can get, and children would keep me from getting that jump start.
I recently read “How To Be a Woman”, an unbelievably rad feminist memoir by the British journalist Caitlin Moran. In it, she describes in two chapters – Why You Should Have Children, and Why You Shouldn’t Have Children – the ins and outs of her experiences with two pregnancies, as well as the ins and outs of her experience with motherhood (and why she wouldn’t change that for anything).
She also gives us her opinion on women who don’t want children…she says that they shouldn’t have them. This isn’t necessarily because those women wouldn’t be good mothers, because many of them probably would be. However, Moran and I take issue with a society that places an expectation of motherhood on all married women.
Guess what, society? I literally have the biological equipment that would allow me to increase the human race by about 25 people, provided that I had a partner willing to contribute their DNA to the whole process. That definitely doesn’t mean that I have to, and it doesn’t even mean that I should want to. I’ve told many people that I don’t want kids, and typically the response I get runs along the lines of, “Oh you’ll change your mind when you’re older,” followed by a patronizing chuckle.
You know what, damn it? Maybe I really won’t. I may never change my mind. I may enjoy the freedom that my partner and I share by not having kids. I may enjoy not having to take 5-10 years off of work so I can look after someone(s) that are completely and totally reliant on me and my ability to be a mature adult. As of right now, I know that isn’t what I want – my personality doesn’t particularly scream “nurturer”, either.
Then again, maybe I will change my mind…but it won’t be because of these ridiculous expectations, or this society that wants to squeeze me into a box with the word “MOTHER” written in thick ass sharpie on the outside. IF I change my mind, it will be because I want children…and it will be MY choice.