As cliche as it sounds, growing up, I always dreamt of getting married and having a family. As you get older you start to discover yourself, your personality, your wants and needs and this can sometimes change your whole perception towards life. I got married when I was 23 years old, now that I think about it, I was definitely too young. I thought I knew what I wanted out of life but self-discovery is a never-ending process. As I have been busy attaining an education, my husband and I have not yet seriously discussed the biggest question: children. I do not see myself having my own children. This, as you can imagine, will inevitably create a conflict in our marriage. When women say they do not want children, they usually hear: “you will change your mind”. Well, it has been seven years now and my mind has still not changed. If anything, my decision has become firmer. The moment you get married the next question everyone is asking is if you are pregnant and when you will get pregnant. Someone actually thought I was infertile because I do not have a child. Society shapes everything around us; it has imposed the institution of marriage and the need to have children. The need can be traced back to biological instincts; if we did not have these predispositions the human race would not have come this far.
My hormones are sometimes off the roof, especially now that I am approaching the big 3-0; this at times makes me want to have my own child. But then I look around me, I see nothing but issues surrounding the world; climate change, war and the ever-growing population that the earth will not be able to sustain one day.
There are other problems as well, for instance, in the United States there is no paid maternity leave and as someone whose family lives far away, I often wonder if I will be able to leave my child at the hands of a stranger at one-month-old, while I go off to work still trying to recover from birth. My values certainly do not match the values of this capitalist system, which has little to no social benefits for new mothers. A system in place where we celebrate mothers once a year with the most extravagant gifts but fail to address their real concerns. If, or when, I do decide to have a child, I picture myself adopting or fostering. Personally, I cannot wrap my head around the concept that there are millions of abandoned children in the world with no family or stable future. I do not think that a baby needs to come out from inside me for me to be able to love him/ her. This is where my husband and I have divided opinions. He says that adoption is “not for him”, whatever that even means…
I do not know what the future holds for us. But all I recognise is that we need to destroy the construct of what a “normal” marriage and family institution “should” look like.
We need to diversify; we need to open ourselves up to the idea that some women simply do not want to have children and that is perfectly fine. Instead of trying to change their minds, we need to respect their decision.
Written by a guest writerAnonymous