Tiny Steps Mommy Tale
Editor’s Note: I am grateful to Dawn for sharing her tale. It is an important reminder that not everyone has to share the same dreams and aspirations. Women have many choices in life and not having children is a valid decision that should be respected. Maybe you’ll think twice before you ask, “so when are you going to have children?” If you have a Tiny Steps Mommy Tale to share, please e-mail nicoledash[at]gmail[dot]com.
Childless by Choice
By Dawn Serra
I’m a non-parent; or, as I like to call it, childless by choice. I’m just going to dive right in by saying that there is one thing I cannot stand getting asked by my mommy-friends. Are you ready for it?
“So, when are you and Jae going to have kids?”
Not “are you going to have kids”, but “when”. As if it’s inevitable – being a woman somehow must mean I’m destined to become a mom.
I’ve known from a very young age that I didn’t want children. I rarely wanted to pretend that I had a baby when my sister and I played House. Oh no. I wanted to be a doctor, or an actress, or a writer. In my imaginary world, I always had places to go and people to meet. Diapers and bottles and dolls didn’t seem to fit in. Or, if they did, they were quickly forgotten for more interesting things.
My mom used to tell me I’d grow out of it – “it” being my lack of interest in parenting. I think she’s still waiting for that No Kids Phase to end even though I’m 35 years old.
She’s not alone in her sentiment about my childlessness. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been warned that I’ll regret not having kids when I’m older. They worry that I’ll be alone and miserable without someone to care for me when I’m cranky and creaky and pushing a purple walker with tennis balls on the bottom.
I’ve even had people tell me, to my face, that my life won’t amount too much if I don’t have children to validate my existence. That I can’t possibly know the REAL meaning of love unless I pop out a baby.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe they’re not. All I know is that people don’t think twice about dismissing or disrespecting my choice simply because they don’t understand it.
As frustrating as it is, I can’t hold it against them. Die-hard parents look at me and see an alien life form. The feeling, frankly, is mutual.
But, here’s the truth: I think motherhood is the single most important and challenging job in the universe. The responsibility, the sacrifice, and the life-changing commitment that it takes to be a mom completely overwhelm me. I don’t know how some moms do it. I really don’t.
You want to know what motherhood looks like to me? The longest, scariest, most death-defying, headache-inducing, thrilling roller coaster the world has ever seen. Because once someone steps into the role of “mom”, the lap bar comes down, the harness locks, and you can’t stop that ride no matter how scary or stomach-turning things may become.
I admire those of you who have the courage and the desire to make that leap. I’ll watch from a safe distance and just listen to the screams of terror and the high-pitched laughter.
If I’m being honest, I must admit that I think I’d be an amazing mom. People would look at my kid and think, “Wow. That is one cool kid. I wonder who her mom is?” And I’d be right there with the Rock Star Mom shirt on, front row at all the concerts and the sports games, screaming my head off. What’s the point of being a parent if you can’t embarrass the little buggers, right?
Silliness aside, when I’m lying in bed, dreaming of all the things I’d like to achieve, those pictures never include a child. There’s me and my adventure and a whole lotta love. It is a complete, happy, solid picture.
You may dream of diapers and baby smells and tiny laughter. I dream of photo safaris in the Serengeti and writing a movie script featuring a strong female protagonist and dining with the Dalai Lama in India. Both types of dreams are adventurous and risky and scary and rewarding, right?
Motherhood is the most sacred human act. I admire my mother for everything that she sacrificed for me and my sister. I am in awe of my friends, and the incredible people they are bringing up in this challenging world. I know it isn’t easy, and I know that mothers are undervalued by our society. If there are people deserving six and seven-figure salaries, it’s moms.
So, I will always bow down to the power that is motherhood. The only thing I ask in return is respect for my choice to remain childless. Because I swear to you, the next time someone asks me who is going to visit me in the old folks home when I’m 90, I’m going to happily inform them that I’ll probably be long dead because my adventure-exhausted body will have crapped out somewhere near Greece. Or Morocco. Or Indonesia…Dawn Serra is a relationship and intimacy coach, specializing in helping women to lean into their fear, to try new things, and to live a life full of passion.