“You won’t be a real woman if you don’t have children”.
“I already am a real woman”.
“No you’re not…you’re only 3/4 a woman. You have a womb and it’s there for you to reproduce”.
Yes, this conversation really happened.
The gent was around 55-65 years old and because he meant no harm, and because I doubt he is well versed on today’s more acceptable way to speak to women who are childfree by choice, I forgive him for his views.
But I am offended by them.
He quizzed me on my decision to be childfree by choice.
Then he wanted to know what would happen if my partner wanted children – and berated me for saying we would part ways, clearly unimpressed that I could “give up love because I wouldn’t have a child”.
He recommended that my parents needed to have a word with me about this decision.
He joked that my boyfriend should slip me something so that my contraceptive pill (note: I don’t actually take one) doesn’t work and I get pregnant.
He told me that I should not be able to get married if I’m not going to have children.
And then he told me I am not a real woman.
I don’t like confrontation so I politely and timidly let him say his piece. But I might’ve replied by saying the following:
I know I run the risk of being lonely when I’m elderly. That is a truly scary thought.
I know my house will seem emptier and Christmases will be quieter.
I know my family name will stop with me, and that makes me sad.
I am aware of the (slim) possibility that I could regret my decision when I’m older – that would feel devastating.
But none of those thoughts or feelings justify, in my mind, my having a child that I have no desire to birth or raise.
Would I love my child if I had one? Of course. Would I devote my life to them? Without question.
But that doesn’t mean that I should have a child.
I’ve never had the desire, the maternal instinct, the urge. Not ever.
I have friends who have felt the same but have gone on to have children anyway, either accidentally or planned, and they are so glad they did. So I believe in ‘never say never’. But don’t tell me that I should change my mind.
Why would I bring a child into this world to make others happy, or to fit convention, or to be seen as a ‘real woman’? How would that be fair on a child? How would that be fair on me?
You can disagree if you like. If you are a parent then you know the infinite rewards and the depths of true unconditional love, in a way I do not, and you are more qualified to know what I’m missing than I am.
But please don’t say I am not a real woman. That is so hurtful.