Do you ever wonder why you decided to have children?
I remember, before becoming a mother, I imagined being hopelessly in love with a flock of sweet bundles of joy. I saw myself as a wise, loving parent, raising a small crowd of tender little gems who would, one day, be able to change the world thanks to my sage guidance and teachings.
I now look back on that fantasy as the incontrovertible proof of a potent acid trip: I was clearly in the dark about all things maternal.
Of course, my children are adorable and I do devour them with kisses every time I grab them, but that naive, romantic idealization of motherhood has nothing to do with the kind of mother I turned out to be.
I love them to the moon and back but, at the first tantrum I’d be tempted to pack them up and ship them off to Kamchatka, no return ticket, thank you very much.
I’d give my life for them but I would never sacrifice coffee with a friend.
I’d do anything for them – and believe me, I’ve done my fair share of embarrassing stuff – but I jump at the first chance to do something for me. Too bad if that means they don’t get to go to the park that day.
I am in awe of the women that proclaim their unconditional motherly love, and who, in spite of the difficult times, would never change anything, or wish to get a second shot at life, because their children make them complete. As I said, I’m in awe of them but, at the same time, I get the sense of disbelief and frankly, horror that I experience in the presence of a crazy fundamentalist who uses his tongue as a pincushion.
I’ll admit I have, in the past, said something similar but today I realize I’m not so sure my life would have been worse without my children.
What I do appreciate is the stand taken by women like Cameron Diaz, who say that the decision of not having children is as natural as its opposite and that not becoming a mother is not to be considered a failure, just a different life path.
What I really do not condone, though, are the ones that think that not having children reduces one to half a woman, whose market value dramatically drops, making her just a little bit better than warts on toes but not as worthy as the termites infesting grandma’s buffet.
Who has decided that a childless woman is necessarily bitter and selfish, doomed to a lonely, forgotten death? Why couldn’t she just be living a good, satisfactory life, surrounded by loving family and friends, with a great career and a doting partner?
When I think of myself sans kids, I don’t see a better person, but surely a different person who doesn’t live every day of her life as if she were under constant terrorist attack. I would’t dread shopping for groceries like I do and, at the end of a long, busy day, I could probably enjoy a fragrant bubble bath by candlelight, sipping a good glass of wine.
Or maybe I’d be an astronaut or a farmer raising Tibetan goats, why not? I would fly around the world without living every trip as if it were D-Day. I would probably be watching a movie instead of enduring the disapproving looks of my fellow passengers at my kids’ every tantrum.
Maybe I’d have the opportunity to grow professionally and as a human being, instead of regress into a mass of hysterical fat.
Who knows, maybe… I will never find out. I can only accept the consequences of choices I have made without ever really questioning them.
Yet, if I wanted to be completely honest, I’d have to admit that without children I would have never had to find out whether I have the energy to get up in the morning and face long days after harrowing sleepless nights. Or I wouldn’t have developed the ability to walk with my head held high, regardless of the dubious stains on my shirt, nor would I have the talent to drive with an eye on the road and the other on the car floor in the desperate search of a pacifier at large.
Without kids I would possibly be more relaxed but would not have developed the fundamental qualities necessary to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.
Maybe there’s not all that much difference between me and those who don’t want to have children.