Saturday, April 14, 2012

A to Z: Motherhood and its consequences

I choose not to be a mother. Why? Pfff... Many reasons. One: I'd suck at it. Two: I'm not really a fan of tiny humans. Three: I love my life the way it is--sleep in when I want to, be a couch potato if I feel like it, travel on a whim.

Yeah. I'm selfish. So sue me.

But I'm a pretty unique specimen where I live, and where I come from. My Mexican friends from childhood are all respectably married and have kids. Most of my friends in Curacao also have kids (the marriage issue here is somewhat alternative; wait for my post on Tying the Knot on T day for more on that).

They all love to ask, "when are you guys going to have a baby? Little so-and-so [their own child] wants a playmate."

Oh, for the love of peace.

I'm looking forward to menopause for two really good reasons. One, people will stop harassing me about why I'm not a mother and nodding away my reasons with a "you'll change your mind soon" that drips patronization into a syrup that gags me. True, this might be substituted with pity--"ah, you poor thing, you missed out on the greatest of joys".

The second reason is that the hassle of birth control will finally be over.

Why would I want to be a mom? No, beside the whole "a child is the purest joy you'll ever know". That's a subjective claim, and although I respect some people might feel that way, who's to say I will? Plenty of mothers hate their children and do horrible things to them. I might be one of them. So, besides that Hallmark image, any other good reasons?

Take the lack of tech-savy. One of my closest friends, same age I am, is constantly lamenting why we live so far apart (she lives in Mexico, I live in the Caribbean--it's a good eight-hour trip, if you're lucky, a whole day if you're not) and how that makes it impossible to talk every day like we used to.

I suggest Skype.

She says she has it somewhere on her computer, but she's not sure where. I tell her to download it again (it's free). She says she doesn't remember her password. I say get a new one. Two days later, she calls me on my cellphone, from her land line. "What happened to Skype?" I say. "I couldn't figure it out," she answers.

Me, on the other hand? I hacked an iPhone for my boyfriend, back in 2008 when unlocked iPhones weren't available for international use. That was one cool Christmas.

I bet, once my friend's kids start tinkering with electronic devices, I'll be able to chat with them.

We have a couple of friends--friends who are a couple, as in they're married to each other--who seldom show up to our parties together. "We couldn't find a babysitter," the one that shows up says. Well, dang it, people. Does your social life get put on hold because you have a child? I'm not talking about a three-day hedonistic cruise here. Just a nice house party, maybe a BBQ at the beach. And you can't come because you couldn't find someone--anyone--to watch your kid for a few hours?

I've spent my life trying to overcome that kind of dependence, in myself and in others.

One more thing: I had a crazy youth. Drove my parents insane with worry. And I didn't do it alone. But these friends with whom, up till a decade ago, I used to reminisce our craziness with shrieking giggles, now blush and shush me every time something from that time comes up. "Don't mention any of that in front of the kids," they say.


Look, I don't advocate shouting stuff from that time from the rooftops, but these are your kids. What are you going to do, pass yourself off as Mother Theresa to them? "No, Mommy's never had jello shots. No, Mommy's never danced on a bar, Coyote-Ugly style. Of course Mommy was a virgin when she met Daddy."

I agree it's going to be a hair-raising conversation, and one most of us would prefer not to have, especially not with wide-eyed eight-year-olds. But maybe we should have thought of that up there on that Coyote Ugly bar. We are who we are (and what we've done), and hiding it from our kids isn't going to make it go away. It just makes us liars.

Nice example, Mommy.

Don't get me wrong. You want to be a mom? Please--be my guest. You are a mom and you love it, wouldn't trade it for anything? I'm so happy for you.

Seriously. I am.

My thing against motherhood isn't about you, or even about mothers in general. I'm glad you decided to procreate and bring forth a new generation of humanity, and I really hope you understand the power you wield by having done that.

No, my issue with motherhood is that... Well, it's like the Mormons. Or Jehova's Witnesses.

I do apologize if you, beloved reader, are a Mormon or a Jehova's Witness. I know next to nothing about either religion, and this is not me passing judgment on its precepts or validity--just on the method of recruitment.

Someone shows up at your door just as the oven pings its timer and you've got to get the lasagna (or turkey or casserole or whatever) out before it cooks even one more degree, and the phone is ringing and a dog just snuck out of your bedroom with one of your favorite shoes in her slobbery mouth. And this person, all sweet and polite and primped up, expects you to accept Christ (or Mormon or Jehova or whatever) as your personal savior right there at your doorstep, all before the lasagna is ruined.


I'm always tempted to engage these people in theological debate, because I love watching the house of cards of their rationale fall apart, but--that's just mean and nasty. And the thing is, I know they're not doing it out of spite, out of a dark desire to ruin my day (or my lasagna). I do feel bad for being so nasty.

I just wish... Can't we all just accept that my god isn't better or worse than your God, just different, and--down at the core of things--actually the very same thing? Why should anyone have the right to interfere with anyone else's belief system?

There's a great video of this here. If you're nodding your head at all this, please watch it.

Every time that a well-intentioned mother or father (and I have to say, fathers do it a lot less) tries to evangelize me into having a child of my own, I get the same exact feeling of that doorbell ringing with the lasagna in the oven and my dog chewing on my only good pair of evening shoes.

Silk, no less. The slobber will never come out.


  1. This is so funny, Guillie, and so right. I couldn't agree more--with all of it. Let's be free to live our life the way we want. If we seek another way to find God, we can get the information on our own. If a sudden maternal desire hits us, we'll follow that avenue. Each person is unique. And you're special just the way you are.

    1. Glad you liked it, Francene. I know motherhood is a hot button for many people, so I did debate on writing this post. Still, it's *me* :) You're so right about each person being unique (and thanks for considering me special). One day, I hope, that uniqueness will elicit respect instead of criticism. Wouldn't *that* make for a wonderful world?

  2. I think you and my daughter would get on well together. Mind you we have to sit for her dogs once a year!

    1. Haha--Bob, I'd love to meet her! I also have four dogs, and since I live so far away from my family, I'm hard-pressed to find a "babysitter". She's lucky to have you!

  3. I'm a mother of two, soon to be three, and I agree that not everyone should, or should want to have kids. I also respect that it takes a lot of courage to say so. Still, there are many different ways to be a parent. You can decide to forego all identities except for "Mom," to recreate your past so it's sparkling clean, to give up all outside social activities, but you don't have to. My husband and I do pretty much everything we did before we had children, albeit in different ways. I don't feel that others are missing out by not being parents, nor do I feel that I'm missing out because I don't get to sleep in, or I can't hit the bars every weekend.

    Very good post with lots to think about.

    1. Janna, so true--especially the courage part. Bottom-line for me: I'm too scared to have kids :) You're right about there being different ways to be a parent, and I'm glad you and your husband have found a balance for it that makes you happy. In the end, that's all that counts--and your children will be better humans because of it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Great post, Guilie. I laughed really hard at parts. Sometimes we women judge each other too harshly. Personally, I think a lot of that stems from jealousy.

    Rick and I always knew we wanted children - would never go back and do it differently, but of course there are times we look at our lives and wonder how different things could be. A less secure woman might react badly when confronted with a successful, happy woman such as yourself.

    For me, not having children may have meant paying attention to my writing much earlier in my life. But I would have a heck of a lot less material! Hahahahahaha.

    1. Hahahaha--Agreed on the material, Cindy. It's a "sacrifice" worth making, in my professional-writer opinion :D

      I don't know about the "successful, happy" part--I don't feel very successful, and... Well, happiness is a state of mind, isn't it? I'm certainly no paragon of How To Live One's Life, hahaha! I have nothing but admiration for moms, and especially one as wonderful as you.

  5. Great post (thanks for visiting my blog so I could find yours). I have many friends who have made this decision and since they are in their 50-60's, made it in an era that was even more pro-childbearing. Good for you, knowing what you want and need as well as sticking to your guns.

    As much as I love my kids and grandkids, I know in many ways I shouldn't have had any. But life tosses us curveballs and we duck. ;-)

    As to religion, you are right on. I love to say my religion is based upon a Native American saying. "Let everything you do be your religion and everything you say your prayer."

  6. This is a decision each woman must make.

    Just stand firm in what you want. There are advantages and disadvantages to both choices. I'm a mother, but when I was younger I thought differently. I had to meet the right man before I would consider it.

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  7. I've never understood why having children is the default. I think that people should think long and hard before they have kids. And this is coming from a wannabe breeder. Anyway, just ignore. Honestly, I'll bet that half the time they're really wanting to talk about their OWN kids, and hassling you is just their entry point.

  8. Such a thoughtful post. I must admit, Guilie, that this part really made me laugh: "And this person, all sweet and polite and primped up, expects you to accept Christ (or Mormon or Jehova or whatever) as your personal savior right there at your doorstep, all before the lasagna is ruined." LOL—love that.

    My daughter is a lovely, wonderful, talented young woman who’s passionate about travel. She made the decision not to have kids. Like you, she's not all that crazy about them and knows she couldn't invest the time or patience necessary to raise children in the right manner. I think she’s smart & savvy for realizing that—and certainly not selfish whatsoever. But she gets pressured all the time by her friends (the ones with kids) and made to feel ashamed and/or guilty because of her choice. Pity.

  9. I highly recommend menopause.

    Beyond that, having children hardly spares one from the judgments of others: "When are you having your next one?" "You DON'T want them to be too far apart in age!" "Surely you breastfeed!" "You LET them eat that/(junk food/health food)?" "You're pregnant and you drank THAT?" "You SPANKED your child? I would NEVER BEAT mine!" "I feel sorry for mothers who are happy when their children are in school." yada, etc., blah blah. It goes on and on. Only in the teen years do parents become compassionate toward one another. The teenagers pulverize them into submission, basically.

    It's a wonder any of us survives.

  10. I love this post! its not something that most people talk about. I also have no wish to have kids but then I actually love kids. I love hanging out with them and watching them learn. I know I would be a gret mum but I just have no desire to reproduce.I'm a bit weird like that. I can hardly commit to a cell phone plan or paying more than a hundred bucks for a pair of shoes so the thought of a life long commitment to that level of responsibility is beyond comprehension. I dont think that the reason for the choice matters. It's way more selfish to bring an unwanted child into the world than it is to conciously make the choice not to!!!

  11. I am stopping by from the A-Z Challenge. A great post and I have subscribed to keep up with the posts.


  12. Another A to Z traveler here -- and even though I am a mom, and a stepmom, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Now I shall read on.

  13. Great post! I am a mom, but certainly don't think it's the right choice for everyone. After my daughter was born for like 10 years people kept asking when we were going to have another one. I alternated between "Why? Do you have one for sale?" and "David can have another one, he jsut has to find a girlfriend."

  14. I love this post! I don't want children either, and can't wait to be past the age when I can have them so people will stop with the "well in a few more years" bit.

  15. Hey thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on my "Quirky" post! It seems you have thought through your decision not to have kids. I have a close friend who has chosen not to have kids too. We've talked about it a lot over the years we've known each other. It's great to have a friend who views the world from a different perspective and to still be able to find common ground. It's humbling and enriching to one's life I believe.


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