If you believe Salons Michelle Goldberg, I am a pariah. My mere existence provokes hysteria. I am unwelcome in many circles. I am pitied, envied, ignored, put down, rejected even hated and reviled for the life-choice I have made.
Who am I? And what life-shaking choice have I made to be so poorly regarded? I am a childless woman. I prefer to use the term "Childfree", because my decision to not have children was a positive one, made long ago. I paid attention to the implied if onlys of my childed peers. I watched my mother closely. I watched peers morph from brilliant, independent and accomplished people to haggard, spit-upon, kiddiewhipped drudges in the course of nine months. I carefully weighed the financial, physical and emotional toll that kids would have on my own life, and said, no thanks.
I walked away from the Mommy Track, and I have never looked back, nor had a moment of regret, or my own version of if only.
And apparently, that lack of desire and regret enrages some of the more estrogen soaked among my gender, particularly one Sylvia Ann Hewlett, whose books are a grand example of the high-operatic hand wringing that ladies like me get serenaded with at regular intervals. Heck, perhaps there is some hormonal cycle that goes with mothering that I am blissfully unaware of- one that compels people like Hewlett and her sob-sister peers to point trembling fingers at me and stare with those big, moist eyes and imply that I am less than human for not heeding my hormones and breeding like a good little woman.
I am expected to read these books, see the error of my ways and repent, like some New Testament character. Then I am expected to hie myself to the fertility clinic, or find some male with a pulse, and breed. Or, wear sackcloth and ashes, perhaps a hair shirt and go around with big, sad eyes like those Keane babies because I dont have a baby of my own. I am supposed to think less of myself, and understand my poor treatment because, according to some Harvard Law School professor named Mary Ann Glandon, "People without children have a much weaker stake in our collective future."
It is attitudes and idiotic statements like that from so-called leaders in our culture that have turned me into an angry outcast. Their dismissive words have pretty much dismissed me from the human race for daring to say, "Screw convention- there are enough people in this world without my adding more, just because I can." But oddly enough, my attitude is seen to be negative, even as we eat at our arable land and build more and more McMansions to house the growing hordes. Places like New Jersey have no natural watersheds, because most of the state has been paved over. Yet, Im considered less than human for not doing something that any animal can do, and consciously avoiding it. Yes, I made a choice, after looking at the Big Picture, and not liking what I saw. I chose not to use my uterus, because I was able to make that choice. I chose NOT to reproduce. Men can also choose not to reproduce, but no one rags them about it, probably because they cant gestate. I dared to not utilize a perfectly good uterus, and am stigmatized for that choice.
I dont care what people like Hewlett and her addle-brained peers keep killing trees and wasting airtime to promote- if you are a female, you cannot have it all. And if you are a female, you are more than your uterus. Dont let them bully you into making a poor life choice. Once you have that kid, that is it. From then on out, you life is no longer yours, your child dictates it. Thats great if you like that sort of thing, but I did not, and do not, and have decided that I did not want to live like that. I dont have a dog or a truck, either- but no one tags me on those choices.
My life is my own. And I am content with that, even while I fume at the estrogen-soaked guilt-tripping dribble from the Maternity Brigade. I know that I will still collect those half-disdainful stares from the blowsy stretch-pants and sweatshirt clad women who park their minivans beside my spotless car. Ill feel their eyes burn into my back as I leap out and am in the door of the grocery store before theyve unbuckled Toddler #1 from the seat. I will still have to field those nosy questions from strangers who feel that it is their business to inquire into my reproductive status. And be looked upon as intolerant when someones "little angel" actually acts like Damien from "The Omen", and I vote with my feet to get away from the kid, or refuse to coo over someones freshly downloaded scion. No, I dont want to baby-sit your kid- unless youre willing to pay my field service rates didnt think so.
No, I have no regrets. Yes, I will have someone to care for me when I get old, because I have worked all my life, and have put some of it away for my retirement. Kids are not a guarantee of happiness, of security, or of immortality, as any parent who has outlived their children can tell you. Neither is money, but at least you can choose to spend your money as you wish.
It is too bad that people like Hewlett and her peers continue to target me and my peers as cultural pariahs. In doing so, they reveal their own regrets and insecurities, and open a chasm between themselves and people who they should respect and treasure. Instead, they blame and hate, and forever alienate intelligent and productive people like me.
Its their loss, not mine.
ã 2002 Lorie A. Johnson