Some women would call me selfish for not wanting kids…and I would whole-heartedly agree with them.
Melanie Notkin (of SavvyAuntie.com) wrote a piece in the Huffington Post about her experiences of being a woman without children of her own, but who is an aunt to many. In her article she referenced to the new Sarah Jessica Parker film, I Don’t Know How She Does It, and the lead character’s junior associate’s “child-phobic” ways. She then asked the following:
“Why is it that the modern mom can love her children and her career, but the childless woman can love only her career? And are cliché characters like Momo — played by actor Olivia Munn — reflective of a common antagonism over burdened moms have for those without children? In America today, has feminism morphed into mommyism? More importantly, are we all losing something because of it?”
All great questions, but really, what are the answers?
As a 34-year-old woman living in New York City, I do not have children. As I’ve gotten older this has become a topic of conversation for many people in my life. I was even featured in the NY Post because of my “childless” status as if it were some novel concept that a woman would choose to have a life that doesn’t involve the conventional standards of what one is supposed to do when they grow-up: fall in love, get married, have a child, buy a Toyota, join the PTA, etc.
Like Notkin, I’m an aunt. I have two adorable nephews whom I would give my life for, if necessary, and whom I never thought I’d love as much as I do. While I like to think I have some level of maternal instincts tucked away inside me, when I’m around my nephews, I have to second-guess that notion. I like to think that if and when I need them, those instincts will kick into gear.
As opposed to calling women without children—whether it be for biological reasons or simply choice — “childless,” Notkin says she prefers the term “childfull” stating that those of us without children of our own “choose to love the children in our lives.”
I do understand what she’s getting at, but I’d like to take both those adjectives off the table altogether.
Why a woman who doesn’t have a child has to be labeled anything at all is what I don’t understand.
My lack of children doesn’t define me, it doesn’t say anything about my character—although some would call me selfish and I’d whole-heartedly agree with them—so I don’t think I need a word to pigeonhole me into a category. People are so quick to point out that someone like Jennifer Aniston is “childless,” but when was the last time someone labeled George Clooney the same? Double standard much? And who cares if my life is free of children? And yes, I chose the word “free” there for a reason.
I do not regard myself as “childless,” nor will you see me running around telling people that I’m “childfull.” My motherhood status shouldn’t matter just because we live in a society that has told us that yes, having children is something that comes next once you’re married; it’s just what people do; it’s imparting survival on the species; it’s some sort of duty and if you don’t fulfill it you’re selfish and self-absorbed. Well then, so be it.
The subject of women not having kids for whatever reason has been beaten to death. I don’t have ’em, don’t want ’em right now and I don’t know if I ever will. And that’s where the story ends.