It always amazes me how many of our actions are based on old concepts we or our friends have of ourselves. What courses we choose to take with our lives because of views we once held about who we were supposed to be or the things we were supposed to want and how rarely most people stop to reevaluate and ask if these things are the things that really matter, if we should let ourselves be stuck with the same personality traits, ideals and goals as the person we were ten years ago, or even five years ago. Maybe it's just that I hate anything that feels like stagnation, dislike existing in a way that isn't always moving forward.
I remember as a child wanting everything I tied with normalcy. I wanted to grow up and have the house in the 'burbs with the two car garage, a picket fence, 2.5 kids and a golden lab. My goal wasn't necessarily to be a mom or a housewife, I didn't think of it in terms of relating to wanting children or a specific career, it was just to grow up and have the things I didn't always have. I wanted control and stability. I was always a child who couldn't wait to grow up. As an adult I've never been one to feel nostalgic about childhood. This is fine with me.
Growing older things changed. Life held more options. I realized I could be in control and create a sense of normalcy without having to fit into a neat box. As a teenager, I always figured I'd be the sort of woman who lived their life a la CoCo Chanel- committed relationships, but no marriage, no kids, my own apartment, a successful career. A life where I was not dependent on anyone, where I was totally free to make my own choices, where the only person that could fuck things up would be myself.
But then somehow I became the type of person that reaches their early twenties and is still dating their high school sweetheart. The type of person that got asked the question "So when are you going to get married?" and would sort of chuckle it off while thinking "Are you crazy? I'm twenty (fill in number 0, 1 or 2 here)". Jacob and I were both on the "no children" page, so that hadn't changed but that question always made me start thinking about that person I thought I was going to be and how far it was from the person I had become. I didn't like it, or at least I didn't like that I had just sort of let myself fall into a pattern without feeling like I had been making conscious decision for a while.
When I started dating the douche he would ask me what I wanted from a relationship, tell me he wanted somebody that was in it for the long haul (lies, lies, lies) and wanted children, blah blah blah and I would just tell him I had just come out of a six year relationship and I didn't really know what I wanted. I had no idea. I just knew that I needed something different. I started thinking about what it was I wanted in the long term in regards to family and relationships.
This is the conclusion I've come to:
Children are not a priority for me. They're just not.
This isn't to say I'm on the "absolutely no children ever" team these days but there are a lot of conditions to me intentionally having or adopting a child. I would need to be in an emotionally and financially stable marriage with somebody I think would make a good father and at a place in my career where I'd be willing to risk taking time off to be a stay at home parent until my child/children were school aged. My strong preference would also be to have children in my late twenties to early thirties. That's not hugely far off, and the likelihood that I'll meet all those conditions by then seems fairly slim but also not impossible. But if the right guy turned out not to want children or I was less than certain about what we'd be like as parents together, that wouldn't be a dealbreaker. If my culinary career really took off and it just wasn't possible to take time off, I wouldn't be willing to have children knowing I would be working 40+ hours a week in a high stress environment and probably wouldn't always have the time or energy for them.
I just don't believe the myth that the empowered woman can have it all. I mean, I do; you can have a high powered career and be a loving attentive mother and support your husband and make your child all sorts of adorable crafty things, etc... but I'm pretty sure you can't have it all at once. Commit yourself in too many ways and everything just ends up suffering. Something's always gotta give. Obviously I'm not a parent. I can't state any of these things as absolute fact and I can't even say for sure that as I get older that biological clock won't start ticking. There's this odd dichotomy to me where I often feel I would be equally ok with focusing on having a successful career or being a housewife. I don't halfass things, I'm an all or nothing sort of woman, so I'm pretty sure it'll be one or the other. Having a career only relies on me, not on someone else. So until I'm certain about someone else, my allegiance lies with my career and there's a good chance I won't be having kids.
And just like abortion, I don't think this is a choice I, or any other woman should have to justify or defend.
As a culture we don't question men who make the decision to live a bachelor lifestyle. We don't question married men that show little interest in being fathers to the degree that women are expected to be mothers. Don't question me.
When it comes down to it, I guess what I'm trying to say with these posts is that being a modern liberal woman isn't about fitting into a neat man hating, power bitch box, it's about choices. It's about living your life in the way that you find most empowering. It's about being able to stick to your guns without having to apologize and it's about facepunching double standards.
You can be the virgin or the whore, the career woman or the 50s era housewife or everything in between, it's fine with me, if it's really working for you. Just pay attention to what society has made you ingrain, know your decisions are your own.
Hi, my name's Alana, and I am what a feminist looks like. Hopefully, so are you.