Disclaimer: the aim of this is to highlight that regardless of what you want, it should be what YOU want. So I want to be very clear, that if it is your wish is to have children, I want that for you too, and you should be able to have easy access to all the ways that would enable you to conceive. It should not cause you to become bankrupt, it should not require you to have a partner or be a cis-male/female coupling, and it should involve all the mental, emotional, physical, nutritional and spiritual support that you might need and want. Please read the below with care.
It is only recently that I have come to the realisation that I do not have to have children if I do not want to.
What a fantastical thought you might say. But the reality is, if you know, you literally know. And you most certainly know if you are a woman, regardless of age really. Because it was never a question. I was a woman so I would have children. I was a woman so I would be a mother. I was a woman so I would be organised, tidy, clean, demure, pleasant, humble and caring. I was a woman so there was no choice. I was a woman so from birth my designated purpose was motherhood.
And for the longest time, I did want children so badly.
“I was a woman so from birth my designated purpose was motherhood”
I spent a lifetime proudly catering to the trope of being the ‘mother’ figure amongst friends, and at times (somewhat embarrassingly when I reflect) playing into it. A lifetime of thinking that my most ardent dream was to be a mother myself; to have children. A lifetime of feeling an ache and longing in my chest and belly when I saw a pregnant woman or young children; at times having difficulty interacting with them because of the immense jealousy that would fill the entirety of my being. So much so that I told my sister if she got pregnant before me, she shouldn’t tell me because I would need time to process and I would most definitely not react well; knowing for certain that I would have had a complete meltdown if she had. A lifetime of catering to others and feeling immensely validated when this was recognised because that translated into being a good mother; the more you give yourself up, the more you lose yourself in them; the better off your children will be.
Unsurprisingly, I ended up being a mother in my relationships too.
It was only recently that I realised that, alongside unrecognised societal pressure and expectation, my yearning for motherhood may have also been a manifestation of the struggle I had with my own identity, feelings of being lost, feeling like I didn’t belong and feeling like I had no purpose or value.
Because to be a mother is to be wanted, to be needed, to be loved. Not necessarily those things all the time, or all at once but at baseline to be a mother is to always have people that belong to you and you to them. To be a mother is to have a designated purpose and role; no longer would I have to find reasons to live for myself if I could live for someone else. To be a mother is to always have value in the eyes of a patriarchal society; a chance to create more sons and spend life nurturing and caring for them.
When I was forced to heal my inner child, confront and accept the actions of my past self, expose the parts of my being that I had suppressed when I tried to fit the the woman that was advertised and glorified as worthy and valuable; I finally found myself and I found peace. Acknowledging that I am a forever evolving entity; I now have a confidence in my inherent worthiness that I never had before, I now know where I belong, I no longer have to question who I am because I know and appreciate my values and strengths, and I no longer seek validation from unworthy sources, because this journey has cultivated loving, safe and secure relationships that are always open for question, curiosity and care.
“I no longer feel the need to be a mother simply to validate my existence and worthiness as a woman”
So when I entered a relationship with a man who had children that were already grown, the onus was, for the most part, entirely on me when it came to children. It was literally my choice. Something I had never experienced, expected or ever considered as an option. It was my choice as a healed and whole version of my true self (I would be lying if I said there wasn’t the odd day or two, sometimes three, where I might have questions or where I feel confused, but that’s okay and that’s when I rely on the expertise of those I respect to remind me who the fuck I am).
So for the first time, I have been asking myself whether I actually want children. Because I no longer feel the need to be a mother simply to validate my existence and worthiness as a woman. For the first time I have realised that I do not have to have children if I do not want to. And if I am only just realising this at 29 years of age, then how the hell are people supposed to have the opportunity to understand what they want at all when there are old, entitled white men making these decisions for them before they even have the chance to?
Because having a choice should not be a fucking privilege.