And Baby Makes Three: Not Defending Our Life Choices

This guest post comes to us via the lovely and talented Fajr Muhammad.  She writes regularly about fashion, life and all things awesome at Stylish Thought.  Pop over and say hi!
Women. We have the weight of the world and all of Eve’s mistakes on our shoulders. We’re the mothers of the universe and the cooks in the kitchen. We climb the career ladder while making a home for our families.
We are masters at juggling it all, but what happens when you don’t want it all?
Society tells us that “having it all” means having a husband, two kids, a high-powered career and a quietly kept exhaustion problem. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having these things – or wanting them
But  this  lifestyle isn’t the end all be all for every woman. There are so many choices that don’t appear on mainstream television. There are women who are living life on their own terms who we never hear about.
Women can choose to never have kids
Women can choose to never marry and adopt a baby on their own
Women can love and marry other women
Women can choose to be the breadwinners for their families
Women can choose to ditch the cubicle and become employees of the world
Women can choose to be stay-at-home moms
Women can choose to be committed to jobs that bring them joy and fulfillment
Imagine, what life would be like if we stopped “shoulding” ourselves – If we stopped feeling guilty about our choices or pressured to make choices we know aren’t right for us. What would life be like then?  What would life be like if we listened to our hearts instead of following the voices in our head?
Whether we choose to never bear a child, never marry a man, to opt out of the rat race in favor of seeing the world, our choices are our own and not political statements we should have to defend.
Not having a baby doesn’t make you less of a woman, just as having one doesn’t make you a mother. Let’s honor each others’ life choices, not  burden ourselves with defending them.
Here are some great quotes from women who have lived life on their own terms and have never defended, or regretted, a single moment of it:
“I have a lot of friends who are around. I’m having a wonderful time in my life now with my platonic relationships with men and women, because when that sexual tension is off the requirement of the interplay, then you get to who the people really are, and to yourself.”
– Shirley MacLaine
“Seeing unhappiness in the marriage of friends, I was content to have chosen music and laughter as a substitute for a husband.”
– Elsa Maxwell
“Gayle grew up writing the names of her would-be children, making little hearts and putting children’s names in them. Never occurred to me to do that. I never had a desire. And I don’t think I could have had this life and have children. One of the lessons I’ve learned from doing the show is just how much sacrifice and attention is required to do the job of mothering well.”
– Oprah
“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore”
– Lady Gaga
What life choice have you made that doesn’t fit the norm? Have you ever had to defend a decision you’ve made?

20 Comments

Han

Against the norm decision – I waited til I was married to lose my virginity.

I was the only one in my uni class of 20ish who hadn't lost their virginity in their teens (I was 21) I was the second person in my class to get married. (One of the girls was already married when she started uni)

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Amy

Great post! I am 32 years old, have a boyfriend of 10 years and have no plans to marry and no desire to have children. I am applying for grad school and looking forward to the possibility of moving abroad for school next year. I've never wanted children and I have never felt guilty for it. In fact I relish and enjoy the decision I have made that is best for me and have never and will never feel the need to explain "why" to anyone.

p.s. that Lady Gaga quote is just plain awesome.

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Sarah

I love this post! I quit my job to stay home with my daughter, but after about a year, I realized I needed something more. So now I'm partly staying at home and partly working. Some people don't seem to understand why I would need something else besides motherhood, but I know I am a better mom for it.

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Anonymous

I want to walk across the world. Nobody believes me, but I'm GOOD at walking. I walk every where. I cover more than five miles a day getting to work, going to the store, running errands. And why not make a lifestyle out of something I've mastered with long legs, a great stride and years of literally working for what I want. When I get my bills paid off and my future dog is a year old, we're getting a tent, and a covered strolled and I'm going homeless, only my home is going to be everywhere.

Not only is that challenging the American lifestyle, that's challenging animal advocates who believe pets should be indoor only. Teehee!

No one believes me now. But I don't want to work to pay rent. That's a waste and it makes me feel like I'm doing it for nothing. I can survive off very little, I've learned, and I want to challenge that further.

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Elle

I'm like Amy, long-term live-in boyfriend, no plans to get married or have kids. We get a lot of pressure from others, but it doesn't bother me. I don't really see any need to get married! I'm younger though (26), so a lot of my friends are still unmarried, and I'm sure that soon when all the weddings start the pressure will be building.

Also, I'd like to say that the Lady Gaga quote kinda bothers me. Sometimes your career does wake up and say it doesn't love you anymore – I mean getting laid off unexpectedly in the worst job market since the depression? Yeah, I think that's more like your man saying get out of my house I'm divorcing you with no notice.

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Rachel @ SuburbanYogini

Another one here – 37 years old, happily co-habiting with my boyfriend of 6 years (who might I add is 7 years younger than me) with no plans to marry or have children.

Quite frankly I have become sick of defending myself and politely tell people it's none of their damn business.

My brother, who is cheeky, and has the same kind of living arrangements with his girlfriend responds to the "so when are you getting married?" question with "so when are you getting divorced?". Rude but to the point 😉

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the dancing alchemist

My decision that doesn't fit the norm: to not buy a house. The vast prairies of Oklahoma seem to make people in these parts think that home ownership is a fundamental part of life, or that child rearing can only occur on ground-level dwellings. But I love the freedom that renting an apartment gives in terms of maintenance and finances, not to mention the ecological benefits… I also used to live in Boston, so maybe I'm just trying to hang on to the coolness of living in an old Cambridge apartment!

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fizzmeup.com

I never finished university, and I'm not sure I want to have children. Sometimes I regret not having finished university, but I know it's not the be all and end all to a happy or successful life. And I might do it later, in my own time, and for enjoyment rather than as a necessity to get somewhere in life.

Having recently come out of a 4.5 year relationship where there was pressure to *want* to have children, the relief I felt realising I no longer had to try to want to have children was immense! It's reinforced that, although I wont rule it out, having children may not be for me at all.

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Lovers, Saints & Sailors

Great post. I was just writing to a friend about this earlier in the week.

My husband and I are happily married with no desire to have children whatsoever.

But I get annoyed that we (and particularly I, being the woman) have to defend that decision.

Like our decision to rent and not have kids means we're not grown up.

Like our choices to drop money on a 14 course meal or a beer tasting weekend are not fulfilling.

Waking up late, or early on a weekend, watching film clips and then deciding to cook an intricate, 4 hour french dish can't give the same satisfaction as cleaning cheerios out of your kids hair and having a stinky car full of dried milk and Dora toys.

Thanks for reminding me there are people out there who aren't doing it "by the book" and who won't judge.

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amy the abattoir

It was interesting to read this, because I just happen to write an article to something relating to this. Unlike this woman's view, though, I argue that now women are also feeling pressures to NOT want things like marrying, wanting children, etc. And therefore, women are still pressuring each other to conform to a norm, albeit a different one than was usual 50 years ago.

I'll post the link in case anyone wants to read it:

http://amytheabattoir.blogspot.com/2011/09/mormon-blogs-secular-left-hypocrisy-and.html

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Maow

I like this quote:

“PARENTS DO NOT HAVE THE MARKET ON LOVE, CARING AND SELFLESSNESS: Contrary to the negative stereotypes parents like to hurl around about the childfree, we do not live in a bubble where we exist only for ourselves. Only in our dreams are we lying around in bed all day, being fed bon-bons and brought tropical drinks by a cabana boy. We have jobs, and mortgages and bills to pay and most of us are not rolling in dough. It is not all about me, me, me. We are spouses. We are significant others. We are siblings. We are sons and daughters. We are grandchildren. We are friends. We are aunts and uncles. We are companions to animals. We are volunteers in our communities. We are dedicated employees and many of us are teachers, firefighters, EMTs, doctors, therapists and other caring professionals. There are many roles in life that allow a person to express love, caring and selflessness and being a parent isn’t the only role in life that makes that possible.”

http://childfreedom.blogspot.com/2011/09/myth-that-must-die.html

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Honey Bee

"We’re the mothers of the universe and the cooks in the kitchen."
Why say that? The moment we stop saying things like 'we're the cooks in the kitchen', the world will stop saying it to us.

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Anonymous

Actually I'm not "shoulding" myself, it's the others that do so. I'm 32, childless and very happy to be so. You wouldn't believe the pressure to have kids by other women. Funnily enough, men never raise the subject.
Sonja

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Jamillah

First off I love Fajr's blog like it's my job. She's fantastic and does blog on a lot of awesome.

Secondly, I'm so happy that as women our minds are opening to the other possibilities of life. Make decisions for yourself. At the end it's your happiness. I want to follow every dream I have and I feel that I have that right.

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Kelsey

I really support the opportunity for women to make a choice, but those quotes… they really bothered me. They were more anti-something than pro-something, so, it came off… insulting.

As someone who plans to have kids, had sex my teens, is getting married to my high school sweet heart… I don't like people to look down on my choices as anti-femminist as much as other women don't want to be harassed for not making the traditional choices. I'm going to make some babies and love my husband and I'm really excited about all this. This is what I want out of life. Of course, I want a amazing job and for my work to one day be recognized… but, I see no reason why having a family and marriage should stop me.

Sorry, being that I DO surround myself with fantastically independent and awesome ladies, I also feel the pressure… just to not be so "normal" in my wants.

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Sarah Von Bargen

Kelsey, I totally understand where you're coming from and as someone who (at 32) has almost no friends with children I've witnessed firsthand what you're talking about. When a friend of mine decided that she wanted to get pregnant, she told me like it was a dirty secret.

But I think the point that Fajr is trying to make is that those of us who make decisions outside 'the norm' are often pressured to explain/defend them, but women who make 'traditional choices' usually aren't.

I would guess that it is only within smaller pockets of women (apparently like the ones we both hang out with) that more 'normal' life goals are marginalized.

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Lily

I didn't date the guy that everyone thought was perfect for me, I was a virgin till my wedding night, Our kids are less than a year apart in age- but we're only having the two, We rent an apartment, We don't have cable, We rarely use our cell phones, We only have one car… and probably a few other things that I/we have had to "defend" to other people.

The thing that bugs me the most is how some people think that they can convince you to change your mind. It doesn't matter that we've done this thing for 5 years… they think they can "solve your problem" in 5 minutes. Blargh!

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Audi

I've written a few times on my own blog about my decision to be child-free. My most negative experience with it was trying to get a tubal ligation for many years and repeatedly being told 'no' by doctors — or that I needed my (now ex) husband's permission(!!).

Over the years there was certainly plenty of pressure from family, there were more "you'll change your mind" comments than I can count, there was the occasional accusation of being selfish, and so on — but all of that combined was nothing next to being denied the right to make my own reproductive decisions. I finally did get my tubal at age 36, but I feel like I had to spend many more years on birth control than was really healthy for me, not to mention the effort it took to justify my decision. I think people are more willing these days to accept women SAYING they don't want kids, but when it comes down to making that decision permanent and binding, all of a sudden they aren't so accepting anymore.

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