Where did I get this crazy idea that the only way to be of value in this world is to be a mother? That the only way for a woman to be worthwhile is if she had kids. At my lowest point, I find myself dividing the world into the those with and without kids, even when those kids are far away.
I could point to the media. Everyone loves the media for these sorts of things. Yes, Jennifer Aniston’s baby bump is exciting and Drew Barrymore just had a baby (“the light of her life”). But I usually don’t let the media influence me that much, and I don’t own a TV.
I could point to my family. My mother has never once insinuated that I should settle down or have kids. When I told her recently that it was making me upset, she was shocked that I was even considering it.
My younger sister is another story – with my many nephews that she has had oh-so-close together (pregnant again) – she is the first to expose me to what choices can lead to a stable family. She seems to like it. But then, she also always seemed to like kids. She loved being a kid (I was even unhappy to be around kids when I was a kid). She started dating her husband early in college, when I was still partying like it was 1999. When she got married, I was still trying to party like it was 1999.
I could blame my friends, but that would be ridiculous because I am naturally drawn to those without kids from all walks of life. None of my high school friends that were close ended up married at this point (or with kids). One is a child psychologist (vows never to have kids), another a feminist activist (has an IUD so she can be sure not be pregnant ever) and another a lawyer who just moved to Chile. In fact, none of my close female friends younger or older has had children.
But mostly I think it is me. It is my judgement on the world – my division of things into haves and have nots – with me solidly in the have not category. And after a long weekend of meditation and silence, I think I am my own worst enemy. I can only think that this is the result of 1) my body waging war, 2) somehow internalizing that I had failed somehow, or was on the brink of failure, and 3) feeling some empty void-like hole inside that needs to be filled by love – any love – and the love of a child seems the best.
Getting over my own preconceptions of what a life worth living looks like is my own first step to recovery. Where in the world am I picking up these messages from? When someone asks me if I have kids, instead of confidently saying no, thank you, I say no, and then go weep in a corner. This is the kernel I need to crack for now.