Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The One Thing That a Woman's Supposed to Do

Sometimes I watch terrible chick flicks to laugh at them, but  What to Expect When You're Expecting was a whole other brand of awful.

On the one hand, it reinforced that I definitely do not want children. I don't see myself in any of their lives. Yes, they're fictional, but I've pretty much known all the women whose caricatures are portrayed in the film, from the breast-obsessed mom to the image-obsessed mom. They've all been in my life at some point, and I cannot relate in the slightest.

It kind of makes me feel defective.

I don't really mean that in a bad way. I've talked about this before, feeling broken, defective, like something's wrong with me because I don't want kids. It takes on a different tone now that I'm older. It still sucks, feeling left out, but lately I find myself feeling extremely grateful that I've recognized this in myself and have been working so hard at loving my life as it is.

But when Jennifer Lopez's character bawls about not being able to do "the one thing that a woman's supposed to be able to do", it made me twitch. It made me angry. I've heard friends dealing with infertility say this a lot, that not getting pregnant means they're a failure as a woman, or as a wife.

Fuck that.

I genuinely feel sympathy for families going through infertility. I cannot imagine wanting a child, especially not wanting one so badly that every failed month is painful. I get it.

But you are more than your ability to procreate. I am not doing this world a disservice because I'm not procreating. I'm no less of a woman. You know what I was meant to be? A designer. An entrepreneur. A badass aunt and a really great partner. I'm meant to be me.

Be strong. Be sad if you need to be sad — I'm not saying there's no place for disappointment and devastation. What I'm saying is, stop equating womanhood with childbearing. Stop equating masculinity with the ability get a woman pregnant. Stop excluding me when you say "family" is everything. My husband and I started a family when we got married. We count.

I've been told I'll never know what love is, that I'll never fully appreciate my own mother, that I'm wasting a perfectly good uterus, and that I'm doing a disservice to my family and the world. These are not paraphrased statements. People have said these things to me. They've also implied that i shouldn't have gotten married, that I'm childish and immature, that my husband isn't a real man because he hasn't managed to knock me up for whatever reason, that I'm a bad person and incapable of loving the children in my life, that my life lacks meaning because I don't want kids of my own.

I'm mad. That's my emotion tonight; I'm mad. I'm tired of being bullied and made to feel less than what I am, and movies like What to Expect reinforce that. A woman is nothing if she doesn't get pregnant. Husbands are bumbling and stupid and lose all their masculinity when they become parents.
I didn't expect a good movie when I watched this. I knew what I was getting into, but it was far worse, and not at all funny. It was pathetic, and it made me feel sorry for people whose world is shattered if they can't have children.

Having children is great… if that's what you want. But someone whose goal in life was to be a mom is a complete mystery to me. AND THAT'S OKAY. I have different goals. Stop trying to make me feel like I'm less than you because of them, and I will never make you feel like you're less than me because you chose a different path.



Barb said...

Great post. I don't know why so many women feel that motherhood is the epitome of womanhood. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

Tanvi said...

I like this blog of urs and I feel somehow connected to your thoughts as if you gave words to my thoughts .

Jen said...

Thankfully, Hollywood is currently being accused publicly (though still a little quietly for my liking) of not delivering movie content that matches what the audience really wants. This film, and all the other garbage, fairy tale crap that is churned out by that particular industry is no longer relevant to a lot of us... and just makes us feel awful. And stupidly, a lot of folks get brainwashed by movies and stories, and it comes out in the way people treat each other... it's all a bit silly. I long for the day when entertainment reflects our needs (even if we are the minority)

SM said...

Thank god we live in a time when we can go online and see we are NOT alone. I just discovered this blog and love it! I am 44 and now the 'kid window' has closed for me. I agonized about it for years, but never went through with having a kid in the end because I knew I didn't want it enough. It's still hard sometimes to know I will be forever outside whatever sisterhood there exists among mothers. I struggle with feeling like I let my parents/in-laws down, that I've "stopped the line" of an amazing family (I have great in laws), and to know that I won't have a kid to take care of me when I get old (not that you can count on that even if you do have one, I know). I hate the feeling of being categorized by others as some kind of non-nurturing, non-feminine woman for not having children. I've realized that I need to have a thick skin not only for dealing with the outside world, but also for examining and discarding whatever ideas about motherhood that I've internalized, that don't serve me. To stay strong. And this blog really helps!

Anonymous said...

that I'm wasting a perfectly good uterus, and that I'm doing a disservice to my family and the world
It's funny (not funny at all) how this sentiment is usually aimed at white women as far as I have seen on other blogs. Racist and I love how it's assumed that women should be breeding to supply white babies for families to adopt.

kristydhp said...

I'm so happy I found your blog. I've been feeling so many of the same emotions and been frustrated and lonely. THANK YOU for keeping this blog going and I look forward to future posts!!

Amel said...

Ouch...those were really harsh words that you had heard from different people. Sorry to hear about that. I can understand the anger. People can be so rude and harsh...:-(

Speaking as an infertile, the thing is that when we started to want to have a child, the dream included wanting to give my hubby a son/daughter, my parents and his parents a grandson/granddaughter - among other things.

During our TTC phase, nobody had ever really told me directly or indirectly anything that made me feel like I'd "failed" them, but because I wanted so much to be able to become a mother, to make my hubby a dad, to make my parents and his parents grandparents...that was why I felt like I had "disappointed" them - because I knew they wanted our child. When you want something that you know would want to make your loved ones happy as well, but then turns out you won't be able to give it anyway no matter how much you try, isn't it only natural that you feel that you've failed them somehow?

That said, though, we've since surrendered to life without kids. It ain't an easy road and in the beginning it was very rocky, but these days it gets easier most of the time and I've gotten rid of the guilt and I've told both sides of parents not to wait for any grandkids from us and I know hubby's on the same page. :-) THANK GOD!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am sooooo.. glad I found this blog. It feels so good to know that I am not the only one to believe ones genes are not so superior that if the genetic line is not extended it would be the end of humanity. I cannot for the life of me trade my control over my time, brain and energy for any sweet , cute bundles of so called joy. To fulfill my nurturing instinct, I go to an orphanage near my place and spend quality ttime with the kids on a weekly basis. And I love these kids. But the concept of my own flesh and whatever never makes sense to me. Great to know that I vibe at least with a few humans out of the billion or so on this planet

Unknown said...

Just started following your blog. It is great! My husband and I are en route to childfree living. I've started a blog to share my journey with others.

Anonymous said...

I have been married almost 5 years. About 6 months ago, I realized that I don't want kids... but I still haven't told my mother in law. A few years ago, I remember giving her the impression we wanted kids. All it took was a lot of babysitting... and then I realized... 'I don't want to do this!' I know they say its different when its your own kid... but I don't buy it. So, my own kid's whining isn't going to bother me? Doubt it. I hope the kid thing comes up in conversation soon... because I will feel relief when I confess I've changed my mind.

Unknown said...

Thank you for writing this.

Anonymous said...

great blog