In a week, I will turn 33- an age where society reminds you that your biological clock is ticking, and where your body, or more specifically those pesky hormones are screaming at you- “it’s baby-making time!” (aside from the baby-making undertones, you’d think my boyfriend would be more excited about this phase of my life)
I wish life was simpler and I was not the slightest bit affected by the, “you’re a walking kid-cocoon” societal pressure, because I know one day, I will want to give up my everything and more for 1.3 loveable shitheads. But the problem is, I don’t know. I don’t know if I want children. I don’t know if I am maternal, if I want to put my (questionable) mark on raising another human being, to sacrifice my career, my body, my mental health, my freedom, my independence, the ability to take a shit in peace or jump without care in a HIIT class again
And the funny thing is, I can already feel that judgment through my screen from the cyberspace masses - the patronizing gaze from those who think they know better, the rebuttals that I'm missing out, that I'm being selfish. But, that’s the other thing I don’t want, I don’t want the copious amount of mum guilt that I know each of my friends feel- for not doing enough, for not staying home, for going back to work too soon, not going back to work soon enough, not caring enough, being too overbearing, not being selfless enough, being too selfish, not breastfeeding enough, breastfeeding for too long (or in public), being too giving, being too strict, having kids too young, having kids too old.
And whilst yes, like many things in my feminist consciousness, maybe I’m overthinking it. However, it is hard not to when on a cute saturday BBQ, it is common place for cis-gendered, white, rich, men to remind me that of course, having kids is “carrier suicide” for the women, but why else would a female not choose that? It is easy to underestimate and dismiss the gravity of that statement (and the ignorance of that knobend), but in fact, recent studies show that over 50% of men expect their careers to take precedence over their partners. Whilst on the other side, Ivy-league college-educated women expected egalitarian marriages, but none expected their careers to be prioritized over their partners.
This research demonstrates a backlash from the dismantling of gender norms in previous generations, in a time now, where gender equality, according to the world, has been checked off our collective moral agenda. We live in a time where merely making a post about these struggles women face is the same as actually fighting the feminist fight and winning. Like one dude recently abhorring his LinkedIn community to sympathize with women as he snaps a picture of his wife who struggles to write job applications whilst two children crawl all over her. Not for a second thinking that a better answer to this obviously overloaded and overwhelmed women is to put down the phone and the viral adoration of support that goes with his feminist heroism, and pick up his own fucking children to help out.
The fact that I’m down with 1 successful career and careering headfirst into another is no deterrent for the role that society “really” expects me to be playing right now. Maybe I want kids, but if I do, I know I want to be the dad. And the funny thing is, before people go and judge me, if such an event were to occur, I would not expect my career to take precedence. I would just expect (in my opinion, the bare minimum) the dance of equal effort, equal sacrifice (and less of the mum guilt). I’d wish that my partner would be able to enjoy and participate equally in the rich reward of raising a child. But from what I’ve witnessed, it’s often just easier to succumb to traditional gender roles as our society, our workplaces, our tax-systems, our culture, are all unfortunately still built with a strong bias that men occupy the offices and women the homes.
Who knows, maybe years from now, I will read these words forever and unforgivably printed in the cyber ether and wonder what the hell I was thinking as my 8 children run like maniacs around me, licking every possible surface and then eventually telling me how outdated and non-pc my views are. Maybe I will turn into a dog lady who finds her true maternal instinct and unbounded love unleashed by golden retrievers. Or maybe I decide my highest calling in life does not involve popping a bun in the oven, and instead focus on other noble pursuits. What I do know is that the pressure, the unbridled assumptions and expectations, the endless opinions and the lose-lose that comes with owning a uterus is fucking exhausting. And so, for my birthday I am going to lie down and rest from it all for a bit. Unless that is, my hormones kick in again and then it's back to square one like a hyena on heat