Mother’s Day isn’t for everyone.
Especially not for those who have chosen not to have kids, and for whom Mother’s Day can be annoying when store clerks and people on sidewalks assume Female=Mother and automatically wish all of us, as soon as we look old enough to have birthed, a happy Mother’s Day.
And for childfree females of all ages who are afraid to admit to themselves or others that they don’t want kids (more on this in an upcoming episode of Childfree Girls), Mother’s Day is a heavy, uncomfortable, angering, nagging reminder that they’re feeling pressured into making a decision that will impact the rest of their days.
And then there are those who have told their partners, “I don’t want kids,” and whose partners are secretly hoping Mother’s Day commercials, all very narrowly focused on the fuzzy, glowy moments of parenthood, will inspire a change of heart.
If you’re one of the people going into this weekend hoping your partner will change their mind (as my ex-husband did), if you’re one of those people who’s telling yourself, Yeah, she says she doesn’t want kids, but with enough time and these commercials with kids making their moms strawberry Popsicle pancakes—
No. No “but.”
If she tells you she doesn’t want children…
1. Do not assume that because we’re women we’ll eventually want children. We aren’t kangaroos—this internal pouch isn’t one we all feel instinctively compelled to fill.
2. If a woman tells you she doesn’t want children, pretend she’s actually telling you she doesn’t want children. Don’t translate it in your head as, “I’m saying I don’t want them now, but I’m sure I’ll change my mind later.” She has no reason to lie to you, and if she’s told you she doesn’t want children, she’s already thought about it and decided: No.
[2a.] If she tells you in the first few days of dating that she doesn’t want children, but says when you’re in the heavy-loving, sex-every-day, googly eyes “I miss you and it’s only been five minutes!” phase that she might have changed her mind, take it with a grain of salt. Everyone goes a little nuts in the infatuation stage of a relationship, and it’s very possible, when things settle down and she’s tired of the way you let your socks hang off your feet and you hate the way her teeth hit the fork, that the things she once thought she’d do for love will have settled down. She may love you just as much as she always did, maybe even more than she did in the beginning, but what it means to have a baby will likely have evolved into a more realistic picture of the future, which is, “Oh, right, having a baby means being a parent for the rest of my life.” In short, don’t get your hopes up. (Note: She just might have changed her mind and decided she wants children, but never count on it. Believe it only when you see it.)
3. If she tells you she doesn’t want children, she isn’t telling you she doesn’t love you enough to have your children. It isn’t a personal attack on you, your genes, your sperm, your penis, your manhood, your testicles, your family name, your family, or what she thinks of your ability as a future father. It has nothing to do with anything but the fact that she doesn’t want to be a mother. She doesn’t want the job, she doesn’t want the lifestyle. If this is difficult to understand, try to imagine someone offering you a job no one could possibly pay you enough to do, and then imagine that job is one that will be part of your every waking moment for the rest of your life.
[3a.] Caveat: It may, in some cases, be true that she’s telling you she doesn’t love you enough to have your children. (Marriage may not be irreversible, but children are—if we’re smart, we’ll only have a baby with someone we can imagine having in our lives for as long as that child is breathing.) Either way, she isn’t having kids with you, so the outcome is the same. Don’t be too hurt by it. The love we find with people is rarely the kind that should produce children, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful and rewarding while it lasts.
To all of those hoping your partner will change their mind, let it go and just enjoy the weekend.
To all of the women without children by choice this Mother’s Day, happy independence day to you! Order yourself something fun or have a delicious dinner/drink/lunch/[your choice here].
How do you feel on, or about, Mother’s Day?
Kristen Tsetsi is the author of the novel The Age of the Child. “Something interesting and endlessly thought-provoking that The Age of the Child captures is the multiple sides of pregnancy – wanting to be pregnant, not wanting to be pregnant, and what right the government has in controlling pregnancy. … This isn’t the first piece of dystopian fiction to consider these questions. [Others] have opened the dystopian genre to questions about reproduction; however, The Age of the Child is one of the first I’ve read to really consider the issue of reproductive rights and attitudes so deeply.” – Goodreads Review