The first time I told my mother I didn’t want to have children she stared at me confused. Her face said: “What did I do wrong?”. Immediately, she followed up the shocking revelation with a “You don’t have to think about that now. Let’s see in ten years”. I was around sixteen at the time, which, if you think about it, was not a proper moment to be generating opinions about birth. Still, four years later, at almost 20, I haven’t changed my mind.
A few weeks ago, while surfing the Sunday Review at nytimes.com, I found an opinion column called “Bye- bye, baby”. It highlighted the worldwide decrease in childbirth, primarily due to the fact that young women are now focusing on their careers and figuring out their life plan, while navigating difficult economic situations.
“In nearly all countries that are not desperately poor, women of childbearing age inevitably compare the burdens of bearing children against the potential rewards […] The task of assessing these risks is heaviest for young adults (ages 20 to 35), who happen to be the same people who produce the most births in all societies”, say Michael S. Teitelbaum and Jay M. Winter, writers and Harvard and Yale professors (respectively).
Seems like my issue with the idea of childbearing and family is not an isolated one. All around the world young women and men are reevaluating the rewards and risks of having children, which put into perspective on today’s economic, political and social atmosphere may have more burdens than before.
On another note, there is another concern to be evaluated. Women are just not interested in having children, a trend that has been growing for the past decades and is ‘threatening’ to family as an institution. Also, the tremendous growth in LGBTT support and legalization of same sex marriage is several states and nations has put many into a panic mode, wondering if family will ever be the same.
As a member of the sector that wishes not to have a child, I can, hopefully, explain our decision. It is not simply because we do not care for a family or we are afraid of gaining too much weight in the process. It’s purely an economical and professional thing. Personally, I am in love with my career as a journalist and I wish to fulfill every dream of mine inside of it. I know there are millions of mothers who have a successful career, but it is just not for me. I want a life filled with travel, adventures, curiosity, lessons and a great love by my side.
On the other hand, I’m not saying you can’t have all that and still be a mother, but something tells me motherhood is not one of those areas of life that I want to be a part of. Yes, it is beautiful to have children; it is a power of nature that no one can take away from women. It’s rewarding to see your children grow, go watch their first ballet recital or soccer game and cry during their high school graduation. I’ve been through it all, and I’ve seen the amount of love and care my mother put into all of it, to the point of giving herself off to me, her only child.
I asked my mother last night, while drafting this piece, if she always wanted to have children. She said: “Yes, I always did. I wanted you”. She clearly did. If not, how do you explain the countless ballet classes she took me to or the saliva she invested on encouraging me to pursue my dreams? I saw it all and I am enormously grateful for it. But, as of now (with very little possibility of change), I am more interested in developing that sort of relationship with myself.