My partner once mentioned to me his definition of a mature woman: “It’s someone who has children of her own. That’s a sign of a mature woman.” I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute. Maturity can come in so many ways and in different forms, it can’t be solely by having children.’
Many people were asking me over the years, from friends and especially my immediate family, when we’re going to have children. If only they knew how I really felt inside about this topic, I would have requested to stop asking me about it. Honestly, I’m afraid of being a mother. I’m afraid of getting pregnant. I’m afraid of having my own children. I’m afraid of everything that motherhood brings, the pressures, the challenges. I’m afraid of being an emotionally absent mother. Present physically but in my mind imagining I was somewhere else. Every time my partner brings up the inevitability of getting pregnant, I cry. Really. Because to me, it seems like I’m giving up the life I want to nurture another person’s life and give myself wholly to caring for the baby. But does that make me an immature woman? Does that make me less of a woman to just think about career and enjoying life?
To be honest, I got pregnant few years ago with the same partner, but miscarried. I know part of the reason was that I’m not yet ready to be a mother. I even prayed and asked the unborn baby inside to please be released from my body because I’m not ready financially, not yet ready emotionally to deal with parenthood. May sound cruel to most mothers who may be reading this, but please bear with me.
My entire life’s dream is to be successful at something, travel the world, and enjoy life. Motherhood and having a baby weren’t in my consciousness. Even when I was few years old, I had always dreamed of achieving things. Now even when I mentioned to some people I want to have kids just to steer myself away from possible awkward situations, deep inside though I don’t have the desire. I may not have the motherly instinct some women have, even when my partner thinks I will be a great mother. Even in my happiest self, I will only smile and acknowledge the kids. Say hello to them and leave. I’m not the type to linger any longer than 5 minutes without saying anything. If people ask me to do something with their children, I will gladly do so. Maybe it’s because it’s not my own children, that’s why I don’t feel any attachment to them. But still, I melt at the sight of cats, dogs, sheep, horses, other animals, and stuffed teddy bears rather than babies. I’m really that ambivalent towards motherhood.
It’s not only the financial aspects I’m afraid of and not ready for. It’s mostly the emotional aspect of it. I have already spent many years crying over many things I was dealing with, mostly emotional. Have also spent many years striving to do the most of the situation and improve for the better. Now having children will be a completely different field. I’m sure many women will tell me having children may be the best thing that will ever happen to me. That everything I feared about may not come true. That maybe I’m over-analyzing things. Looking at baby pictures, seeing babies strolled around by parents, seeing small children walking beside their parents, I don’t really see the need to add more to the world. I’m most comfortable writing, reading a good book, traveling, enjoying life, seeing friends, doing yoga and meditation. Seeing new things, enjoying new adventures. I’m not saying that there are no joys of being a parent. Of course there are. I just feel that it’s not for me. Some may think also that it’s selfish of me to not have children. What I say to that, though, is it would be very selfish of me to bring up children of which I don’t want in the first place. I have seen far too many people with really sad expressions on their faces despite having kids. Upon knowing their stories, the common thread is that they didn’t want to have kids in the first place.
I do understand where my partner comes from. All his friends and work colleagues have families of their own and he believes that having children will be the only thing he lives for in life. He has already traveled to many places around the world. He had bad experiences with women who always deserted him after realizing that being a mother was not actually part of their plan. It’s just that there are many definitions of maturity that I don’t believe it’s only confined to having kids. Because as much as there are good parents doing their best for their kids, there are also parents who abuse their own children in so many ways, I can’t even fathom why they became parents in the first place. For me, being a mature person means learning from one’s mistakes to move onward, able to handle challenges with a level head, managing finances very well, able to handle criticism well, manage schedules and social life well, and so many others. Although I haven’t reached that level of maturity yet, achieving perfection is absolutely futile and so I’m simply doing the best I can to do all these things.
What I noticed over the years was that the more I do things I like to do, the more I became happy. The more I try to please other people though, the more I get sad. Sounds simple, yes, but sometimes hard to apply to life specially when not so intuitive or not into looking at one’s self. The love that parents feel for their children is the same love I feel when I’m writing, reading, yoga, meditation, traveling, baking, sampling cuisines, music, dance, doing other things that invigorates and excites me to the core of my being. That’s where I feel the most happy. That even when I get tired after spending many hours writing and editing content for my blog, I still feel happy and fulfilled the next day because I feel I have accomplished something. Although yes, I can’t compare apples to oranges, I consider my writing through this blog my baby. And If I already feel happy about those things, why add something I’m not particularly sure if I’m also gonna be happy about? I mean, unless the child is surrendered to an adoption agency, being a parent is not really something to opt out of. Once the children are there, it’s the parents’ duty to teach the kids, to be there for them until they’re old enough to make their own decisions. That includes whether or not they will take of us when we get too old to walk or do things by ourselves. And that’s the sad reality in most Western countries where most senior citizens live in retirement villages but it depends on the family whether to visit them or not. Not in Asia though, although this could be changing too. One of the comments I read in a similar article said that once a person becomes a parent, you are subjected to a life of servitude. In many ways, whether you like it or not, it is true.
Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I have to bow to society’s pressure to have children. Just because I have a womb doesn’t mean I have to have children. I don’t know if I am keen to do all the cooking, the cleaning, the washing, going to PTA meetings, the inevitable comparisons between parents, however subtle. I don’t know if I’m ready for all that, or if I’m even ready for that at all. I’m still in the process of organising my life so I can write more often. Reading all this stuff about the highs and lows of motherhood has already put me off. I’m glad the information is out there to help people let people let go of their expectations and see the reality.
I’m not saying that being a parent will prevent me from doing all the things I want to do. What I meant is that because I’m still working on managing my life, I don’t think I can handle raising children, at least not at the moment. Many people think that kids exist to make us happy. Now this one is a bit tricky because you are actually ultimately responsible for your own happiness, not other people, and especially not your own children. Also, it’s not necessarily their responsibility either to take care of you once you retire. You can always ask, but you can’t demand that from them.
I know that at some point I may reconsider having children. I know that the endless questioning from well-meaning people will continue. I would love to have a partner who shares the same interests as me, including travel, spirituality, and having a pet dog or cat. On the other hand, I may not regret the decision to have a childfree life. I’m happy with what I got in my life right now and I still intend on doing writing-related endeavors and traveling, because these things make me completely fulfilled and happy.
Can you relate to what I wrote in this post? Kindly share your thoughts.