June 18, 2012

New Cultural Trends of Becoming or Not a Mother {featured reads}

Two recent articles on new cultural trends regarding motherhood struck my attention. The first was a news feature reporting on so called "choice moms:" women who in the end opt for single motherhood while hoping to find a co-parent/spouse later on. The article explains this trend in terms of men taking longer to mature and women not wanting to settle for less or miss out on their chance of motherhood.

The second is a personal essay by a single woman in the last year of her thirties faced with the very real possibility of not becoming a mom. Reflecting on the cultural and peer pressures of becoming a mom and joining the motherhood party — as also recounted in a recent New York Times Motherlode post — she makes a compelling plea that we recognize the party of those who do not become moms too:
As friends and colleagues get hitched and have babies, sometimes I start to feel like a straggler at a party. Everyone's gone home, what am I still doing here? [...]
They say the unexamined life is not worth living. I'd argue that on the other hand, the over-analyzed life is a suffocating wet blanket. Sometimes you have to just be.
And maybe instead of picturing myself as the straggler at the party, it's important to see beyond all the baby mama drama, recognize that on this side of the fence, there's plenty of love, good times, late nights, late mornings, travel, shopping, joy, indulgence, pleasure, accomplishment. It might not be celebrated, revered, fetishized on TV and in magazines the way the motherhood narrative is, but it's there. It exists. If I end up staying at this party instead of heading to the other party, it's still a party, and if we're not praised, we should praise ourselves. We congratulate women when they get pregnant; why don't we congratulate women who do not?
Louisa in Eureka writes:
I am 60, no children, two step-children. As a woman who chose not to have kids, I was fortunate, compared to others I know: I received no pressure from family, and I did find my tribe, though I understand what Janis means when she says she felt "homeless" sometimes.
Still, no one ever said to me, "Thank you. Thank you for giving the biggest possible gift to the planet by not having a child—bigger than any other act— not owning a car or not flying." No one ever gives people without children any credit.
Helping the planet was not my reason for not having children, of course; that wasn't on my radar or the culture's radar 30-odd years ago. But it was the end result. And I resent the fact that no one ever acknowledges that.

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