I’ve got to ask you something. I think I already know the answer.
And then I’ve got to tell you something. I really hope you hear it.
Do you feel it, that overwhelming pressure? I felt it immediately when I got married. We’d hardly said our “I dos” before “Congratulations!” was followed immediately by “Do you want kids? How many? When?”
And then after I had one child, the question became “How many more?” And then I had my two girls, and it was “Aren’t you going to try for a boy?” I’m making my choices, hoping desperately they work out, and still, somehow, it feels like it’s never enough.
I’m not alone in this. I’m certain of that.
Do you feel it, too?
It’s as if marriage and pregnancy and motherhood all hang some sign around our necks that says, “Hi, I’m open for unsolicited advice and judgment related to the choices my partner and I are making.”
I’ve probably handled it in mostly normal ways. I’ve rolled my eyes, laughed off the questions, and more or less haven’t minded because ultimately, I did want multiple kids, and it was hopefully going to happen soon enough to appease all the questioners.
It’s easy to laugh it off when you’re doing what everyone thinks you should.
And then I watched you. You’re stunning, smart, successful, and happily married. You are beautifully flawed, incredibly talented, and I can’t get enough of what you are doing with your life.
You’d be an amazing mama. You’re so amazing with my kids. But you don’t want any.
That’s OK. Did you know that? Does anyone ever offer you that unsolicited advice? Does anyone ever stop telling you all of the great things about being a mama, stop assuring you you’ll change your mind, stop assuming you’re just being selfish, stop assuming you want to travel, stop assuring you that you’ll be bored soon, or assuming you’re just scared?
Does anyone ever look at you and say, “I respect that choice.” No justifications, no buts, no assumptions–just a celebration of your strong ability to do what is right for you and your family? To avoid the naysayers, the convincers, the doubters? To be countercultural, to be brave, to be honest?
I need you to listen to me, right now. I may be the first one, but I hope I am not the last.
To my friend who doesn’t want kids–I respect you and your choice. I’m not waiting for you to change your mind. And I’m not sitting over here thinking you are lacking.
I am living a good and beautiful life with my two kids. So are you—without any. Good and beautiful things can be done, can be found, can be lived, whether or not you choose to have kids.
If I’m being honest, I don’t know if I believed that until I watched you. But I think we all need to believe that. I think we all need to respect that.
So thank you. Thank you for reminding me, reminding all of us, that a life well-lived can look a million different ways.