Don’t Ask If You Don’t Want To Know

There is a subject women in the US will get spoken to about infinite times in her life: children.

That’s perfectly acceptable, as (biological) women are the humans equipped to grow other humans for nine-ten months. But, the thing is, not all of us want children. On top of that, asking if or when one will be having children is like asking how much money one makes in a year. All are incredibly personal. Emily Post would suggest you avoid asking strangers if and when they are having kids.

Simply, one should never impose their preconceived notions of what makes a person complete. One should never impose their idea that a standard issue 2.1 children, 1 dog, two car family is what makes life fulfilling.

Yesterday, I just finished a sociology class titled “Marriage, Family, and Intimate Relationships.” It wasn’t what I expected and was definitely history heavy; however, I did learn a lot and was able to become more interested in learning about non-standard American values regarding family.

After three months, I remembered why I considered being childfree for such a long time. Sure, I get the occasional pang of maternal desire. But, the desire to learn, travel, and own land seem like much more interesting things. Coming up on 34, my biological timeframe to have kids is dwindling at a rapid rate. Ideally, I’d need to have kids in the next three years if I want to be an active mother. If I adopt, that gives me a couple more years. Essentially, I have a 3-5 year window to save a good chunk of $250k-$500k. And, to make things easier on me, a partner would have to be introduced into the mix. I’d rather not be a single mother and would enjoy having an extra set of hands and an extra source of income to alleviate the emotional and financial costs of having kids.

What it all boils down to though is that a woman doesn’t need children to be complete. I am an entire and whole being without children, and will remain so until the day I die. Not using my ovaries and uterus for their main purpose does not make me any less of a person.

Imagine if infertility didn’t exist. Imagine if every single woman wanted to be mothers. If women lived up to the expectation that our ultimate purpose is to bare children, the world would be a disgustingly overpopulated (even more so than it already is) and resources would cease to exist rapidly.

So, don’t assume all women want to have kids. Don’t randomly ask strangers when they are going to start having kids. You never know the situation you are walking to. You might be talking to someone who isn’t physically able to have kids of their own. Some people simply don’t want children, and have other amazing aspirations that are valuable contributions to society. [*Ahem* Starting a non-profit that directly helps hundreds of thousands of children who come from broken homes or are orphaned is far more admirable than popping one or two kids out while not doing much else. Just sayin’.]

Some of my favorite notable people happen to be childfree women. I like them for reasons other than their choice not to be mothers. Their childlessness has nothing to do with why I appreciate them.

  1. Gloria Steinem. I mean, look at what she’s done for feminism and human equality. She is an amazing example of the fact that a woman can be childfree and remain compassionate and caring.
  2. Stevie Nicks. DUH! If you can’t get down with Stevie, then you’re silly. She’s an amazing lyricist and singer and, again, a wonderful example of a woman being maternal without having kids.
  3. Helen Mirren. She’s played Elizabeth II twice, and has an amazing artistic range in the roles she plays. She’s got an amazing sense of humor, and I bet she is a hoot to hang out with.
  4. Betty White. If you don’t like  or can’t appreciate Betty White, I might not trust your creative judgement. She is a perfect example of a woman who chose her career, and made an excellent choice. Everything she does is pure gold. Plus, she has incredible compassion for animals. She’s sharp, highly motivated, has had an incredibly successful life, and gives a damn about animals.
  5. Margaret Cho. Sure, she’s not everyone’s cuppa. But, here is a woman who has had a successful career, is witty, and in the side she has shown to the public, has proved to be highly compassionate and in favor of equality and human rights. She has chosen to be childfree and maintains a complete life.
  6. Oprah. I might not be Oprah’s biggest fan, but I am a fan of any successful woman. Especially if said woman’s success is entirely hers. She’s never married and never had children and is one of the richest people in the United States. I stand behind any woman who chooses to do what she can to be autonomous and satisfied in life.

There is a conversation that regularly happens in my life:

Stranger: “Do you have kids?”
Me: “No.”
Stranger: “Soon, right? You’re going to be an amazing mother.”
Me: “Thank you, but I probably won’t have kids.”
Stranger: baffled, “Well, um, you might change your mind, right?”
Me: “No, I probably won’t.”

After that, some people will look stunned, trip over incoherent sentences and walk away. Other people will continue on the “kids, kids, KIDS” rhetoric. A few will tell me I’m selfish. On very rare occasions, some people will say “I respect that” and move on.

If I haven’t made my point clear enough: women do not need to have children to live a complete life. We are all as complete as we choose to be. We don’t need social norms (that are 30+ years behind) or gendered rhetoric to make us complete. So, please, just be polite. If you assume all women want to have kids, keep that thought to yourself. Simply, that idea is antiquated and unnecessary.

Incomplete

Undetermined Life

The last couple of weeks have seen me getting off my tush and moving. On Sunday and yesterday, I actually made myself run. Once was in the rain that California so desperately needs, and the other was on a treadmill. I love running in the rain; always have. There is something magically cleansing about running in the rain.

But, running is not the point of this post.

Today, on my walk around our neighborhood, I found my mind wandering on what I’ve done with my life so far, and where I want it to go. Ten years ago, I wanted to be married with three kids, a dog, two cats, and a five bedroom house in Woodside or Portola Valley by this time.

Clearly that hasn’t happened.

Coming up on 34, I still want to get married. Three kids, though? Sure, three kids would be nice, but that means I’d have to get married yesterday and be well on the way to having $750k saved up. I want kids. Two is still doable, and I am happy to adopt. In fact, I’d rather adopt. But the five bedroom in Woodside or Portola Valley? Nope. A five bedroom house, period? Nope. I’ve learned as I age that, while luxurious and impressive, large houses on huge properties aren’t essential in live. Space is space and a house is a house. Home came be anywhere and space isn’t the only important factor.

Walking past newly renovated houses, sprinkled with a few houses that haven’t changed in sixty years, I really started to consider what kind of living space I could see myself in. For the time being, I am happy with a decent studio or loft space, or even a small one bedroom apartment. For now, it’s just me. And, I don’t need heaps of space in order to create my own home. If and when I fall in love and decide to co-habitate, I’ll need my own bedroom. That’s non-negotiable. Even if it’s an office that I can convert into a sleeping area, I’ll be happy. I’m one of those people that sleeps better alone.

All of these adorable and fresh houses are charming, and I’d love to live in one like them. That is definitely possible if I leave California. I used to think I could never leave the Bay Area. Now, I want to run far away from the Bay Area (even California) as fast as possible.

Oregon is calling my name. Washington state might even be able to lure me back. There is also a strong pull to the East Coast. I’d love, very much, to get away from the overly-PC liberal bubble of the West Coast. Sure, if I move back East, I might find myself in the minority and in a community that holds more moderate or conservative views than I. The thing is, I’m fairly good at keeping my two cents to myself. Unless I feel that a life (mine included) is in immediate danger, I tend to keep my two cents to myself.

In my research, Minnesota seems to always be the favorite for women’s overall wellbeing (health, economic, social, and safety).* Do I want to live in Minnesota though? No! Snowy winters are not good for my mental health. The cost of living is, but my mental health is important. Hawaii ranks in the top 20-25% quite often, but the affordability and cost of living isn’t quite the same. I keep getting pulled towards Boston, though. Sure, the winters are cold. But, New York is pretty accessible from Boston. There is a specific mindset in Boston that I have been told I’d do well with. [I get along very well with hardworking, blue collar people. I also can be direct, in a kind, Irish way.] Who knows? That might just be where I end up. Summer weekend trip to Boston this year? Yes please!

Ultimately, the dream is to live in Europe. But, that’s not going to happen in the foreseeable future. I think it’ll help if I find a partner first, and make sure they are on board with that. If we both can be our own bosses, that’ll benefit the dream in a major way.

Anyway, it’s time for me to get on with my life. It’s time I find a place to live, a job to sustain me, and someone to share my time and love with. It’s March already. No time for to waste!!

*https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-women/10728/