Over 30 & Childless? Here Comes the Speculation
“Get married and have babies.”
The message has been ingrained and woven into our psyches as the norm. If by the age of 30, the region you live in can add or subtract some years to this number, you don’t have both of these things in place, or are well on your way to them, folks start to get nervous and question your womanhood.
As little girls, we were given baby dolls fully equipped with plastic bottles of fake milk and fluorescent orange juice-like substances. Don’t forget the baby strollers. At the age of six, we found ourselves standing in our tiny “kitchens” making imaginary meals for our Cabbage Patch Kids and Teddy Ruxpin dolls and when we were just a little older, we graduated to the Easy Bake Oven with a light bulb so hot, you could make an almost edible chocolate flavored brownie cake that your parents would pretend to enjoy. I love to cook, so I’m not dissing the Easy Bake generation; I’m just saying that we didn’t really stand a chance.
Sure we played sports and got dirty, but at the root of it all, we were being spoon-fed the ideology that you grow up, find somebody, marry them and make babies. But due to choice and circumstance, that is not the reality for a lot of people.
Women are not a monolith. We have different needs, wants and desires and now live in a time where it’s OK to go after those desires, no matter how unique or crazy they may seem to others. Women work now and marriage isn’t the same logistically as it used to be. That’s not saying that men and women don’t need each other, it’s saying that now it’s ok to delay checking off every item on the traditional laundry list of life that many of our mothers and grandmothers deemed necessary.
The questions and bewilderment usually come from other women, and often from those who aren’t in solid relationships of their own. Questions about where you are in terms of marriage, when the babies are coming and how many, why you are questioning if you even want babies that eventually grow up into teenagers that sometimes are disrespectful and taxing, are all pretty common.
People say that not having children is selfish, but isn’t having children a bit selfish in a sense? Children don’t ask to be here. People usually have children by accident or they come together and decide that they want something to love mutually, as well as expand their family. While that’s beautiful, parenting might not be for everybody.
I adore my nieces and nephews, both blood-related and those I’m tied to through my close-knit relationships, but I’m not completely convinced that what we’ve been taught about having children is true. At times, I wonder if it adds that much value to one’s life and I’m not afraid to express that. I know women who did not fall into this immediate oxytocin-filled love with their newborn right away. Women who had a really hard time processing the idea of being a new mom after the baby arrived. Women who still say, “I love my kids, but if I could do it differently….” But saying these things is taboo, so many people don’t talk about it.
Can having a child make your relationship better? Is your freedom now stripped away? Could having a child possibly make your relationship worse? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions and maybe it’s not as black and white, but I am sure that giving thought to these things is natural and acceptable and has absolutely no bearing on one’s ability to be a dynamic and loving parent.
There is a natural trajectory people would like to see your life take which is understandable. But the older I get, the more I meet women who are choosing to take more time before entering parenthood, as well as women who are choosing not to become mothers at all. There should be more light shed on these individuals who are going against traditional norms. The questions will never stop and people should only answer what they feel comfortable going into detail about, but before you begin questioning a women about her womb, just make sure your own insecurities and issues are in check.
Sometimes we project our wants and desires onto others, and can often have trouble understanding how someone doesn’t want the things we want. Just because a woman doesn’t have A, B and C by the time she’s X years old, doesn’t mean she has rejected motherhood. And if she has, that’s OK too! It really isn’t your job or place to crack the code and figure it out. Some of the questioning is out of love and a lot is out of sheer nosiness, but it can become draining and daunting to be on the receiving end.
To all the women who are taking time to carve out their own path and approach to taking on the role of mother and wife, cheers to you. Try your best to not let other’s wants and expectations for your life impact you negatively or send you into a panic. For all of the people out there who are ready to lock someone in a room for “21 questions,” chill out, live and let live.