Thursday, February 28, 2013

"No woman should have to explain her childlessness. It is, quite simply, nobody else’s damn business."

She is HOT.
I love Helen Mirren. She is a treasure. I'm so glad her interview in Vogue prompted this article: Helen Mirren Confronts the Final Female Taboo

Please forgive me, this post is going to be more scattered than usual. This article touched a rawness in me that I haven't explored in a long while. Prior to becoming a mother, I felt (or thought or maybe imagined) a pressure from society to marry and have children. By 'society', I may mean my family. Some of their pressure was loving, some just came from a place of ignorance (or even meanness).  I also felt a kind of stigma from my peers as the unwed, non-mother, not-in-a-long-term-relationship, haven't-been-in-a-long-term-relationship-in-years. Or maybe it was pity?

I'm not trying to be unkind to my family or my friends. I realize I could have misconstrued their concern as judgement. 

Still, I didn't feel any less alone in my childlessness and aloneness as I approached my mid-30s.

So I'm still very sensitive to the Helen Mirrens of the world.  Women who, for whatever reason - a reason they don't need to explain to me - are not mothers, a choice that we should support, accept, and move beyond.

Interestingly, the author of this article as well as Helen Mirren, have been quite kind to other women, saying that they never get pressure from other women. Really? REALLY? As a new mom, I know I have fallen into that awful stereotype of bullying my friends (wed or not) to have children. My reason was selfish: I felt lonely in the beginning of motherhood, being one of the only people in my friend group to have baby. I was charting unknown territory and I desperately wanted someone to be on that ship with me.

I hate that I immediately became one of the people who I didn't like, a person who made someone feel bad or isolated in their life choices. It's as bad as if a feminist told me that being a mother makes me less of a feminist. If someone said that to me, I would be furious. "Why does being a mother preclude me from being a feminist? Isn't it about choice?!"

Have we whittled down women into one of two roles: the mother and the not mother? Is that all women can aspire to be?

I don't think so, and I look forward to the day when there is no stigma attached to deciding not to have children. I'm happy being a mother and I want my friends and family members to also be happy in whatever way the choose.

I enjoy writing about my experiences as a mother. I love hearing about other women's experiences with it as well. There is an abundance of literature on motherhood, the article is correct in stating that parenting is an industry. Businesses have learned that parenting sells. What a dreary world it would be if business ONLY catered to parents.

There is a restaurant in my neighborhood that my husband and I adore which refuses to serve children. It is strictly 21 and up, no exception ever. I love this. It would be lovely to go there randomly on a Saturday afternoon with my family but I like that this is at least one place where I can go and not feel guilty about being out enjoying me time without my son (while he is home with a sitter). I don't have to watch what I see or eat or drink and I don't have to look at any other children and feel pangs of "oh he should be here" guilt. Nope. Not there. There it is okay to be a child-free adult.

While I do love writing or reading about motherhood, it is not all I want my life to be, not the only thing I want to be defined as. The same as the amazing Dame Helen Mirren doesn't want to be defined as the not-mom (though I'm pretty sure she will be remember for so, so much more).

1 comment:

  1. Sara, this is a wonderful blog post. I love hanging out with you whether in a mother role or not. I enjoyed my stay watching Seamus as much as I will enjoy your visit as a non-Mother for a weekend! I think we are all victims as mothers and non-mothers in judgment calls we make of others, but as you say, some of us do recognize it and hope to avoid it in the future. Love! J