I recently met a woman in her thirties undergoing IVF treatments.
She said she has stage 4 endometriosis, which is making things difficult.
I mentioned that I had a doctor tell me I might have endometriosis, and that I’m on birth control to manage my symptoms.
She said it was worth checking into it further if I thought I wanted a family, and I said I don’t.
Then, she said, “Yeah, I didn’t think I did either when I was 27. Never say never.”
And I understand what she means by that.
It’s quite possible that in ten years I will be a very different person than I am now.
I’m not ruling that out.
I would be unrecognizable to my 17-year-old self, I think.
Personal growth can be a powerful force in our lives, and we should retain the ability to challenge ourselves and adapt well into adulthood.
But that kind of logic is also why it would be very difficult for me to get a hysterectomy at this age as a way to manage my symptoms.
So it’s frustrating.
It also feels kind of patronizing.
Like she would have patted me on the shoulder had she been sitting closer to me.
That knowing look which tells me she doesn’t think I know myself very well, or that I just haven’t heard my biological clock start ticking yet.
But I’ve thought long and hard about this.
I don’t have a maternal instinct.
I hardly know how to talk to kids, let alone raise one.
Besides that, I have a lot of things I want to do with my life, and children don’t factor into that.
In a lot of ways, having kids is still the default setting for women.
But it shouldn’t be.
The response to a woman saying she doesn’t want children shouldn’t be a wink and the word “yet.”
It just really gets under my skin.
Having some straight, married woman tell me that I’ll probably decide I want children sometime in the next ten years.
I already went through all that when I came out to myself.
I realized that no, I don’t actually want to get married.
No, I don’t actually want children.
Insinuating that I’m just too young to know better when I’m headed toward thirty feels insulting.
Maybe if I said something like that at 15 I would cut someone a break.
But when I’ve had thirteen years to consider the prospect of having children and I still don’t want them, why is that still not valid for some people?
If I said, “I’m going to get this tattoo I’ve been wanting for thirteen years,” would someone say, “I don’t know, I think you’ll regret it?”
Or, more to the point, if I said, “I do eventually want to have children,” would this same person say, “Yeah, that’s what I thought at 27 but you might change your mind?”
I hardly think so.
It’s a double standard.
That’s the trouble.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with motherhood. I just think it’s really, really, not for me.
And I don’t think someone I just met really ought to have an opinion about it.
But because I was born female, my genitals are public property and everyone’s allowed to have an opinion about them.
If not at 27, at what point am I to be believed when I say I don’t want children? 30? 35? 40?
Once I hit menopause?
At what point is a woman’s life her own?