The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Motherhood may not be the path for all women today

3 min read
These days, it would seem everyone is having children or are already parents.

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These days, it would seem everyone is having children or are already parents.

I can barely go a day without looking through social media or the news and seeing someone announce a pregnancy or post about their children.

I, personally, do not want children.

When I was young, I did. I loved to play with dolls and played house and school and other maternal games. I like children and do not consider myself a selfish person.

I simply cannot give a legitimate or whole hearted reason as to why I want children, but I have a seemingly endless list as to why I do not.

I helped my single mother raise my younger siblings and saw the hardships she had to go through: not being able to spontaneously do things she wanted to and may have done if she did not have children, financial issues and being pushed into the bracket of “mother” rather than human being.

From the moment a woman becomes pregnant and chooses to have the child she is no longer herself; she is a “mother,” with all the implications and expectations that come with it.

It may seem that being a parent is the new “thing,” or one may think so at first glance.

In all actuality, the American birth rate is the lowest in U.S. history.

From 2007 to 2011 the fertility rate declined nine percent, and women ages 40 to 44 who have never given birth grew by 80 percent (from 10 percent to 18 percent since 1976), as noted in Lauren Sandler’s “Having it All Without Having Children” in Time Magazine. Ironically, the baby business is a booming one, an estimated $49 billion for 2013, as Sandler reports.

Sandler evaluates the American cultural ideals toward motherhood, stating, “The decision to have a child or not is a private one, but it takes place, in America at least, in a culture that often equates womanhood with motherhood.”

Think about almost any commercial or advertisement.

Could it be seen as directed at parents or mothers in particular?

Ads for cleaning products, Gerber food, baby toys and even to car commercials, are targeted toward parents.

I conducted my own experiment. I asked my 11-year-old brother and 14-year-old sister, and they both said they wanted two children. I asked why, and they could not give a legitimate answer.

Is America obsessed with the idea of having children, going so far as to brainwash our youth to want to have them without having any real reason why?

Are women in particular being pressured to have children?

I believe the answer is yes. Women are seen as selfish or attacking motherhood if they decide to live a child-free life.

Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at New York University, whose research focuses on work, gender and family life, says women are living in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” social context.

She believes the U.S. emphasizes self-sufficiency equally alongside a deep commitment to motherhood.

The mix breeds impossible conflict. Without independence, we are failures. With it, we are selfish.

Being a mother is culturally seen as the hardest job one can have.

Being responsible for the well-being and successful development of another human being you create is not a task to be taken lightly.

If you cannot give a well thought out explanation as to why you truly want to take on that life-long career, then I do not believe you should.