Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why I "Changed my Mind" About Being a Mommy

I've been getting this question a lot, in regards to my decision to get pregnant and join the circle of Motherhood. My initial reaction was one of learned defensiveness where I just wanted to say "None of your fucking business" and leave it at that.

But, here's the thing. If I share my story maybe I can be a small deterrent in what people consider to be socially acceptable to pester women about. So, here's why I "changed my mind" about having a child.

You see... I didn't change my mind. Somewhere inside of me, I've always wanted to be a mom. I've known since I was a child that if I had a baby, I didn't want to find out what I was having before birth (and I'm not finding out). I've had names picked out since my teen, though they've changed and evolved now.

But, there were obstacles to overcome before I decided to bring a new life in to this world and be responsible for it. If you read my Painting the Feminine post titled The Noble Path you'll recall that I've only recently come clean about my fears of being barren due to a slew of medical issues. That fear was enough to have me tuck the want for a child somewhere down deep inside myself; I may have been a physical masochist during the darkest days of my depression, but I'd never have willingly hurt myself emotionally. It's not an exaggeration to say that at a certain point in my life, that level of disappointment could have been life threatening.

Which leads me to my second obstacle; there were a lot of emotional walls for me to tear down and a lot of healing work to do on myself. Some things may never be healed fully, such as being O.K. with people touching me or being in my personal space without my permission, but others could be and needed to be. I couldn't take care of a child when I still felt like I was responsible for taking care of my younger siblings, I couldn't take care of a child while I thought of family as nothing more than a hive of hurt and disappointment, I couldn't take care of a child while I was busy being terrified I'd turn in to my own parents and I sure as shit couldn't take care of a child when I was too much of an emotional nightmare to even take care of myself.

No one really asks you when you're going to have kids until you get married, so I didn't have to explain myself for a while. But once Joe and I were married, it seems everyone felt it was their personal duty to inquire about the emptiness of my uterus and when that may change. At first I just said, when I'm damn well good and ready.

Which should have been enough, but never seemed to be. Because these same people; family, friends, coworkers... would ask me repeatedly. Some would do it each time they saw me and others would keep a watchful eye on things like whether I was drinking wine or beer at parties and gossiping amongst themselves to see if I was pregnant.

Let me stop my own story here to make a very important point, which is the entire reason I'm going in to this: it is never and I mean NEVER acceptable or ok to pry this much in to someone else's personal life. If you chose to get knocked up at 24, 16, a week after you got married, before you were married, at the sperm bank - good for you. I respect your reproductive decisions but you and I aren't the same. Nor are we the same as anyone else. The choice whether or not to reproduce is an incredibly personal one and shouldn't be relegated to water cooler or family reunion gossip. You don't know what someone is going through or what their reasons are and to be completely honest and frank it is none of your fucking business, regardless of your relationship. And should you ask if someone is planning to have a child, take their answer at its face value and move on. Do not guilt them with wanting to be a grandparent, aunt, uncle or want your child to have a playmate. Emotional blackmail is one of the reasons so very many relationships of all sorts are in shambles, don't do it.

My answer of "when I'm ready" was never enough and people wanted to pry in to why I wasn't ready, when I would be ready or (my personal favorite line of bullshit) reminded me that I was getting old (I turned 31 17 days ago). I finally hit a wall with what I could take and refusing to dignify their inquiries with highly personal and private information, I began telling people that I didn't want kids and in fact, greatly disliked them.

That's right. I started telling family members and friends that I didn't like kids and never planned to have any, simply so they would shut up, leave me alone and let me get to the business of taking care of myself. When you think about it, that's a really sad situation. No one should have to lie to get people to respect their boundaries.

But I did. For years. And right up until the day I got pregnant there were only a dozen people that knew that I did, in fact, want children.

So to answer the question of "Why" or "What" made me change my mind... nothing did. Because it hasn't changed. I just have been dishonest with a large group of very intrusive people for a very long time in order to give myself the emotional space that I required but was consistently refused.

If you're in that group, or someone like them, I hope this will serve as a lesson to you and that in the future you will understand that not everyone is an open book and not everyone welcomes personal questions and prying. And that even if they're ok with your asking, please don't ever turn it in to a stalk and gossip situation, because that's really unnerving and creepy.

If I can get even one person to change a behavior by telling my own story, that will be enough. That's the biggest reason that I share personal stories about depression, fear, healing and other personal issues in this forum; to advocate and hopefully touch others in some small way. I'm much better at writing about them than I am at speaking about them and only share when the time and tone sits right in my heart and in my mind; never before I'm ready to do so.


*****
Less heavy stuff on the horizon. Cross my heart. xox

11 comments:

  1. THIS ^

    love this post, and I totally agree, the happily child-free have our own individual reasons for not procreating, and we don't need to explain this to anyone.

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    1. What people do, or do not do, with their reproductive organs is their business. I don't get why this is such a hard concept for so many people.

      xox

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  2. Oh, I think you said what you needed to say quite nicely. I just wished you had not had to suffer living a lie in order to get folks to not bug you. Of course now that you are going to have a child, you will enter the "I never asked for your advise about child rearing so shut your nosey pie hole" segment of live.
    It is never ending my dear. I have folks telling me what I should be doing with all my "down time" now that I am retired. Really??? I just shake my head and think of why some people just can't leave well enough alone?
    Be of good cheer, you're half way to acorn time. Smooches and Squoozes, Oma Linda

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    1. I'm not even angry over it; much as I hate the saying it is what it is. That part of my story, at least, has ended but it still goes on for others... and that's why I share. In the hopes that someday, people's truths will open people's eyes and maybe create positive change.

      I'm an old hippy trapped in a young person's body. We both know that. xox

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  3. I can't tell you how nice it is to see someone write about this, thank you. I have had several conversations about exactly these nosy, inconsiderate buttinskys in the last few years and they continue to make me livid. I have never wanted kids, never been married, and still I've had questions. And anytime I have stated my feelings I have gotten: "You'll change your mind" or "Don't say things like that" or the horrified stare.

    My cousin and my partner's best friend both either have a really hard time or just can't get pregnant. But lucky them - they found their husbands young and both have had to go through years and years of prying questions from family, friends, coworkers, STRANGERS, people watching their drinks at parties, people constantly discussing the state of their uteri...

    I partly blame the generation before us who never discussed alternatives to the 'Married with 2.3 kids and a house" lifestyle. Gay wasn't ok, unmarried was weird, childless was a disaster. The fact that many people have trouble conceiving was never talked about, the fact that many actually don't want kids was offensive just to think about.

    It pains me to say, but the only people that ever great my statement with a "good for you, deciding for yourself" are middle-aged men with too many kids, the people who feel trapped. My mom still can't look at me when I say it, and I turn 37 this year...

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  4. You're welcome. It makes me sad that more people don't write about it, because only with combined voices and stories can we effect any sort of real change.

    I makes me so angry that people feel the need to interject their own desires for children on others. Some people don't want them and some people can't have them. For those who don't want them, it's an unwelcome annoyance and uncomfortable to see shame in the eyes of loved ones for a very personal decision. For those who cannot have them but want them, every question is like a knife in the heart, reopening the wounds of despair, failure and shame. Even though it turns out that I was able to get pregnant, there were many years when I didn't think I could and I can tell first hand how those questions hurt.

    It's not right to hurt someone or make them uncomfortable because you have different standards or different measures of life success or happiness. I tend to take the questions of the older generation, the ones where marrying young and having kids is just how it was done, I get frustrated. When my it's my peers harassing and stalking, it makes me livid.

    I'm sorry that even at 37, when you've clearly made up your mind, that your family and friends still don't accept your decision. I have plenty of unwed, child-free friends and I love and support each and every one of them. And they, in turn, support me in my opposite decisions. For what it's worth across the continents, I respect your choice and if something makes you happy, I fully support your non-pursuit of it. xox

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    1. Also, I feel like people who don't want or can't properly care for kids not having them is a good thing. People have told me that's horrible, but there are enough unwanted and uncared for kids in the world already. Why create more lives that will probably be lived in misery?

      Because that's what guilting someone in to having kids sometimes causes.

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  5. I've never been one of those people who demand to know the details of women's reproductive intentions, but I do see why it's such an obsession for some people. (Almost exclusively women, I think.) In stable, traditional societies, caring for the children born into the community is one of the major functions of a community, whether it's a family, a clan or a village. In the modern First World, we've lost virtually all trace of "community" in that sense, but there's still a sort of vestigial need for people to participate somehow in the raising of children. It not only leads people to ask inappropriate questions that they never would on any other topic, but also to the whole insanity about abortion, gay marriage, etc. Motherhood is one of those fundamental ideas that somehow extends beyond the personal into the public.

    And as much as people violate your privacy about potential babies, it's nothing compared to how they behave toward the real thing. A few years ago I went to a craft show with a couple who had a baby about a month old. My friend Brad was carrying the baby for a while as his wife shopped, and I noticed people (women) nudging each other, smiling, and pointing him out to their companions. When I remarked on this, Brad said "Yeah, it happens a lot. You kind of get used to it." In the 21st century, a man carrying a baby shouldn't be anything remarkable, but somehow it was still cause for public excitement.

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  6. I totally get and agree with everything you've said. Why is it people seem to think it's their right to have their noses right inside your life all the time and also feel the need to tell you what you should or shouldn't be doing, what's 'right' and the guilt trips........ what can I say.I had family members going on at me that I 'couldn't' just have one child - it wasn't right to have an only child etc etc. I suffered badly with my first preganancy and went through a long bought of depression afterwards so when and if I wanted another child was something for only me to decide, if and when I felt I was ready.That time did arrive, five years later, after a lot of emotional healing had taken place and I also felt physically ready. Sadly I am also able to empathise with the lying part of your story, though not in terms of pregnancy. We have not longed moved down to the South Coast of England with my mum and sister close by(one spitting distance, the other 5 mins away).My mum lives in a Christian community and has over the last few months we have been here been constantly giving me Christian stuff to read etc etc and incessantly pressurizing me about my beliefs - very long story short she doesn't agree with my expression of belief in all things Paganism. I have just had to lie to her to get her off my back, to give me the freedom to be the Witchy/Folky/Bohemian/Ecclectic woman I am and the space I need to explore emotionally and grow and also to make my house into the home I want and need it to be and to decide what things I want to fill this new chapter of my life with. I have also chosen to HomeEd my youngest after several years of bullying - of course in her eyes that's wrong too. The point is, I'm 41, with 2 kids one of who is nearly 18!!!!! My life, my decisions, my choices.
    So I applaude you for standing your ground - only you can know what is right for you and in not too long a time, your child. Wishing you a blessed and happy pregnancy Danni :) *~*~*~

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  7. I haven't visited your blog in far too long, but I'm glad to read that you've made a decision that brings you happiness. Having a baby is hard work, but it was a good decision for me (I have two teenagers now) and I hope it brings you as much happiness as it did for me :D

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