As a woman, there is one category in which I am under and/or not represented well: the inevitable road to motherhood.
Mother’s Day passed a couple of weeks ago and all over social media, I read comments from proud mommas. They were filled with joy, pride, happiness and in several cases, an inaccurate statement representing all women. Although, not verbatim, they all seem to elude that Motherhood was the ultimate goal for women.
Whoa there! Err…not really.
If you think the female voice is unheard amongst the male dominant society, I’ve got news for you. Plenty of female voices go unheard within our own circle.
While a lovely sentiment, it does not speak for all women. “A women’s desired path of life” is NOT motherhood, not for all of us, anyway.
I am a woman, who for her entire adult life has not wanted children. Sure, in my teens and early 20s, I too had the princess dream of marriage and children, but it has changed and the feelings I now have on the subject, far outweigh that of my 20-year-old self. So, don’t speak for me, don’t speak for all women. We are not all born with an inherent desire to be mothers. And when you, as a fellow woman, speak on behalf of all of us, you unintentionally give others a reason to think that as a female, our main purpose is to reproduce.
It saddens me to know that if I were a 21-year-old woman, married with children, without any other educational/career/accomplishments to my name, THAT would gain me more respect than I now have, as a 34-year-old single woman with a successful career amongst other accomplishments. It doesn’t matter that I push professional boundaries, make time to volunteer as a big sister to an younger girl in need, or that I am well traveled and well read, or that I’ve mustered the courage to venture into my own business, that I write about travels to encourage others to go beyond their comfort level, or that I have roles in which I am successful (sister, daughter, friend, partner, colleague, teacher). None of that overrides the simple fact that I am unmarried and not likely to become a mother.
I have other goals; I want to see the world, acquire new skill sets, creatively transfer dreams into realities, explore my capacity as an individual, expand my horizons, help those in need, and a plethora of other things, but none of it include being a mother. I know many find that to be selfish in nature, but I disagree. There are no shortage of women in the world who are terrible, unfit mothers. If you want to call someone selfish, they ought to be first in line. There are women resorting to motherhood as a means of escaping their problems, maybe they should queue up on the selfish category before the likes of me. If anything, I’m doing a service to the world by not taking on a role that I know I am not cut out for and/or have no desire to take on.
So, please, stop speaking for all women and forgetting about those of us who contribute to society by NOT popping out babies. We may be smaller in number but we exist. And we have the right to be represented accurately. You may not understand us, and that’s OK, much the same way we do not claim to understand you. But you owe us the same respect you expect of us.
Before you pass a judgment on a single woman, remember that for every woman who moves on to raise a family, you need one of us to continue to contribute to society from the non-family aspect.
Motherhood may be the most rewarding experience for those who are and have wanted to be a mother. For the rest of us, “most rewarding” have a million other synonyms. For me, it’s discovering the world.
I hope in reading this, you’ve been encouraged to take a moment to consider the perspective I represent. That single moment of thought, however big or small in duration, will someday make all the difference.
Thank you for reading.
9 thoughts on “You Do Not Represent Me”
Your choice. We should not generalize. I was for several years absent physically from my children and they suffered greatly.
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Thank you for sharing your thought. I’m sorry that happened to you and I hope that they are doing much better now.
no one should ever make statements like that for ALL women. I love my kid, but motherhood is a huge challenge and I never ask why someone doesn’t have kids like that should be the norm or default standard for a woman! I didn’t know if I wanted to ever be a mother but I got pregnant, and luckily I had the support of a positive marriage and partnership with my husband. I still struggle with my role as a mother and as a woman with greater hopes and dreams, but for me also motherhood is NOT my pinnacle as a woman. Not even close.
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I don’t think that the majority of these mammas meant this – meaning to represent all women and to disrespect you and your values. There are single people out there that may directly criticize you but most mothers respect your choice. You have to believe that. Motherhood is not about reproduction. Motherhood is also about personal growth (very simply put). I had my daughter when I was 36 and I have achieved most of the things on your list by that age but nothing can compare to motherhood in terms of personal growth at least in my experience. Also, motherhood is the HARDEST, most CHALLENGING thing a woman would do in her life (excl. some things like loss and illness). That is why mothers should be recognized. That does not mean that I don’t respect you or respect you less. I don’t expect respect because I am a mother, because I have achieved the things you listed, but I expect respect for just being a person. Everybody deserves it.
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Thank you for your feedback. Just to clarify, I did not mean that the list of things mentioned are the only things to accomplish or that they need to be attained by a certain age. You mentioned that you has achieved most of the things on my list by 36, some people take a lifetime discovering the world, and that is a challenge in itself. Perhaps motherhood is the most challenging to some but that is also a subjective point of view. If I never choose to be a mother, does that mean I haven’t challenged myself to my highest potential? I would disagree. Challenges are subjective. What is difficult for me may not be for you and vice Versa.
Agreed that everyone deserves respect but the notion or even the suggestion that without being a mother I have not treaded the most difficult path does not sit well with me.
I don’t mean that you are suggesting that (although I can’t be sure from your response) but I know plenty of mothers who feel that way.
Being single doesn’t mean you can’t be a mother. I feel becoming a mother changed me and my world more than anything I had ever done (professional success, creative work, world travel). When I speak to other Moms we all agree that it is the most amazing journey we have ever taken…there are times I wish my non-mom friends could somehow experience the amazing-ness of it…..so I think that’s what people mean when they describe it as an end goal for women… similarly if you were a die hard mountain climber you would probably strongly advocate for people to experience mountain climbing….but, yeah, obviously….to each their own
I absolutely agree with you. Being single doesn’t mean you can’t be a mother. I’m glad that it has been the most amazing experience for you (it would really suck if it wasn’t since having children doesn’t have a backtracking process). Having said that, I still think the stance that being a mother is the “ultimate end all” for women is downright wrong. It’s an opinion, it’s subjective and if I never take on the role, the notion that somehow I haven’t reached my full potential is judgmental.
Hi! I see where you’re coming from but you come off bitter and just as judgmental as those you criticize. You use words like ‘popping out babies’ and juxtapose motherhood to things like contributing to the community and having a career.
Becoming a mother does not mean that you stop being everything else, other than a mom, or that you stop contributing to the community in ways other than raising a human being. Many women combine motherhood with a career and/or an active role in the society.
You say some women resort to motherhood as a means to escape their problems, but so many thrive as mothers because they finally found their calling.
A high percentage of women don’t choose to stay at home with their kids, but have to do it because of high childcare costs, or other circumstances, so they want to celebrate their success/commitment on Mother’s Day. You can celebrate yours on Whatever-it-is-you-do’s Day.
You may also want to know that having a child does not stop you from exploring the world, picking up a new skill, or volunteering; it just makes it more challenging.
I have a great deal of respect for people who choose not to have kids, can’t have kids, or for those who choose to make parenthood their full-time job. This is coming from someone who was both relieved and heartbroken to go to work when her baby was just 7 weeks old, who tried being both, a stay-at-home mom, and a working mom and chose the latter. I am also someone who understands that raising a child is a tremendous responsibility and a lif–long commitment.
Finally, (out of curiosity) when you mention that you would receive more respect as a 21-year-old with children, than as a 34-year-old business woman, who are you talking about? Your grandmother?
All of us see the world through a unique prism shaped by our culture/upbringing/education, and to some a phrase like “Motherhood is a woman’s desired path of life” means just that “A” (one of) desired path of life.
Thank you for your response. However, I feel that you missed the point of my article. My basic point was that I am being judged for not having children. I’m not trying to deter others from having them. It’s a subjective article from my point of view. I never once said nor implied that my choice is better than others. Having said that, I still feel compelled to respond to a few of your points:
1. When I said some women resort to motherhood to escape problems (not a small percentage in the world either), that’s what I meant, “SOME”. I agree that some women find it to be their calling. However, it is unfair, and untrue, to say this is (or should be) a calling for all women. Once again, not trying to justify why women shouldn’t have children, just making the point that I and those in my shoes should not have to justify my personal decision not to.
2. Childcare costs weren’t brought up in my original post, but if you want to discuss cost, then that could also be an argument for why some of us choose not to have children. Not everyone can afford to raise kids.
3. I never said mothers shouldn’t express their joy on Mother’s Day. My problem was with the WRONG statement some mothers have made about motherhood being ALL women’s end goal. These comments were the final string (in a list of many) that made me write this article now.
4. While I am perfectly OK with being asked personal question(s), I think it is in poor taste to point to a specific family member by asking, “grandmother?” But to answer your question, I come from a South Asian background, so the mentality of a married woman (especially with children) having more respect than a non married is very common theme. It is not unusual, it’s a cultural hypocrisy (in my opinion). So, no, not JUST my grandmother; it’s an entire society’s judgment that not just I, but most South Asian women deal with.
You spent a great deal of time defending the choice people take to be mothers. This is exactly the point I am trying to express in my article – You don’t need to defend it. I get that some choose motherhood. My point is, don’t represent ALL women, when you speak about motherhood as the ultimate goal.