I was childless, I became a mother, and the pressures of motherhood made me doubt my choices

Elsa spent most of her life kicking around with people telling her to have a baby. Over time, his opinion on the matter changed. Now she is a mother, and she testifies to the creeping doubts that pressure from others has cast on her desire for motherhood.

I am a cisgender woman. This means that since my earliest childhood, a me
basin for me to make babies
and try by all means to convince me that this is my ultimate achievement, the best and most important thing that can happen to me.

The first time I must have been four years old. I was with my grandmother at the market. I, like all children one day or another, had a baby doll in my hands. A lady comes to talk
to grandma, asking me my age, oh, you look taller, and there:

“Do you want a baby?

– Nix.

You will change your mind, you must see. »

CHEF. I’m four (four!!), why would I want a baby? How’s it going up there??

“I’m the girl who doesn’t want kids”

By not answering “NO” to these two ubiquitous replicas (“Do you want one
baby? “and You will change your mind, you must see
“), it has become a personality trait.

I’m the girl who doesn’t want kids. I have not had the opportunity to explore this impression with a professional, but I am sure that this regular reinforcement you-want-a-baby-no-you-want-to-change-your-mind-you-want-to-see-no contributed greatly to my violent opposition to this idea. I was deprived of the freedom to ask myself the question of my desire for a child trying to force it on me.

Every woman I know has been asked this question. All.

Maybe those who answered “yes” were less traumatized, that’s for them to say. There are certainly some who had a child when they really weren’t meant to, others who were disappointed by the experience or who wished they had taken more of their time.

For some of those like me who said no, it became a recurring battle,
an affirmation of individuality. Being denied their desires for freedom and choice throughout
of his life, this is not insignificant. And since we periodically have to justify this choice, it was necessary to rationalize this position, especially when the socially acceptable material conditions for having a child were ticked one after the other: to have finished their studies, to have a permanent full-time job, to be financially comfortable, be in a stable relationship for several years…

Akyurt / Unsplash gear

The command to justify oneself when one does not want a child

I rationalized this position with valid, logical arguments. And even now that I’ve passed on, I still find them true. I said that it is selfish to have a child, that you don’t have a child for him, but for yourself. That our planet is dying from being overpopulated and too polluted, that having a child only adds to the problem, and that his life, the trials he will have to overcome, will be profoundly different from the ones we have known, and much more difficult.

I also said that I wanted to do a lot of things and having a child would close me off to a lot of opportunities due to lack of time and mental space. That the desire for mediation did not have to be satisfied by a person one creates: it puts pressure on him; and it is not only the family pattern to educate and disseminate.

For me, the worst argument is probably the fear of loneliness in old age: a child is not responsible for us when we grow old, and is in no way an insurance against loneliness and abandonment. He owes us nothing.

And then I was afraid imbalance my couple, being overwhelmed by domestic duties and
the mental strain – because reproduction worsens the sexual distribution and unbalanced tasks within the heterosexual couple, obviously to the detriment of the woman. I was afraid of losing my individuality and living only for the child as I worry about taking care of others.

My ambivalence about parenthood

I developed a deep ambivalence about the subject of having children. I have a hard time explaining it to myself: although for a long time my answer to questions on this point was always an emphatic noun, the discussions were always emotional, and inexplicably brought tears to my eyes.

Maybe it’s the fear of missing out, because it’s a pretty universal human experience, but I’ve never quite understood where this undermined feeling came from. . And besides, it’s a dizzying choice, as irreversible as it is, for yourself and especially for the little person you create or not. We cannot say that Come on, I’m trying to have a baby and if I don’t like it more than that, I’ll move on “.

We bought an apartment together, but taking one was out of the question
two pieces. We needed an extra room for an office and “just in case”. My mate suggested a vasectomy, but I preferred to put on a copper IUD, even though it meant I suffered and developed anaemia. When it expired, I had it removed, but i
do not replace it with any form of contraception. We decide to just be careful.

With tears in my eyes, I explain again to my midwife that I don’t want children, but anyway, how old can we be?

Gradually, I changed my mind about parenting

Then the lines moved. Not suddenly, gradually. I see several steps

The first was when my best friend, also anti-baby, told me that she
planned to have a child with his girlfriend. I think she was afraid that I
feels betrayed or that I despise his turn whenshe proved me right
to change your mind without losing your personality
. We debated whether we would prefer to have one
girl or boy, although we knew it didn’t matter.

The second stop was a concert with one of my favorite artists, Amanda Palmer. She has
had a son late in life, this gig was more than a gig: it was a real one
feminist collective therapy, of great power. Parenthood, decision making, relationships, pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion were discussed… Many of us ended the event in tears.

Discussions with the parents around me gave me the impression for a long time that the desire to have children is innate, that people who want to start a family have always had this desire, even if it is not their immediate project. We rarely talk about the construction of this desire, the negotiations and rearrangements that take place around it: in the couple, in one’s own life.

Hearing other voices on this subject, like this artist’s, has changed my perception in this regard.

When we go, my spouse and I go and drink a glass of wine on the terrace until late, I smoke a cigarette or two. We are talking about the possibility of having a child.

A few months later I got pregnant

Three months later, Covid arrives. We are in a vacuum, withdrawn into the hearth. My theater lessons stop, no more outings, no more friends, we are afraid for our loved ones and for ourselves. A new space – a dizzying void – opens up in our lives. After the 1st imprisonment, we adopt Seitan, the most adorable and cutest cat in the world. At the end of October, my best friend gives birth to a little girl.

Right after I lose my grandfather from Covid, then my grandmother from old age. They are
the first relatives (very relatives) to leave me. It’s brutal and heartbreaking.

After an extraordinary Christmas, each in our respective families, my companion and I
go for a walk in a lovely local park on a beautiful day in January. I feel like I’m breathing a little after months of apnea. We are talking about life, about transmission. We tell ourselves that we will pay less attention, and then in six months, when it has not yielded anything, we can get down to business. We love on the way home.


From the first shot.

I wish I could ask myself the question without interference

I have had doubts about my desire for a child (again and always), on my ability to integrate a child into my life that I liked as it was, on my ability to love him. One of my great fears was that I would hate my child because of the far too many concessions that I risked having to make on my well-being, my freedom. I even had the completely irrational fear that all the fear I had would affect him physically or change his brain or that he would perceive rejection and his development would be affected. And I was absolutely convinced that I was going to experience postpartum depression. It must be said that I had health problems related to pregnancy, which did not really help me to feel good during this period of my life.

The questions and fears only stopped when he arrived in the recovery room, pushed by my companion, in his transparent maternity cradle. It was perfect, completely obvious, like I could never have imagined. I prepared myself for my love for him to take time to build, it was love at first sight.

thank god no one told me See, I told you you’d change your mind “. It is true, I changed my mind. If I had remained childless, I would not have known this happiness there, this angle to grow, these new experiences, this companionship that I did not suspect with other parents. I am yet certain that other happiness, other satisfaction, would have taken the place.

But above all, above all: I don’t care that you were right on this point. First you would have
could have been wrong. You wronged a lot of people.
And even I would always blame you because I would have liked to have been able to ask myself the question.

To not feel this pressure, this ambivalence, not to have the impression that my choice has been stolen from me. Being able to do things at my own pace and without interference.

I would have liked to be sure that this wish was mine, and not the result of intense
pro-child lobbying I got stuffed
all my life. I didn’t want to experience terror
to regret, regardless of my choice and until the last second, because I was there
the impossibility of distinguishing between the two. And I wish I hadn’t wasted my energy asking myself all these questions for decades.

Also read:

I am 41, I have no children and I feel free

Photo credit: Anthony Tran / Unsplash

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