“Are you a mother?” She asked me from the other side of the counter while I bagged her things.
“No.” I said. But my life has been entirely changed by several sets of fingers and toes. I’ve bought and changed diapers, braided thousands of pigtails, coaxed more bites of veggies into teeny mouths, kept a car seat in my car, frozen from the sidelines of peewee football, lost whole nights of sleep worrying and praying over a child, wiped noses and tears, given advice on bullying and nail polish and math exams, sang lullabies, told fairy tales, picked them up from summer camp, kissed Band-Aid covered owies, and spent days and nights in pediatric hospital rooms…
“No? Why not?”
“Oh, I have my reasons.”
Because I have never had an overwhelming desire to be a mother. But I can’t tell you that, because people assume I’m cold and don’t like kids.
Because I spent the bulk of my childbearing years studying, working, and caring for the children of other women instead of dating. At my age now, the risks are multiplying quickly, and I certainly don’t want to seek out being a single mother.
Because pregnancy terrifies me. I am less afraid of a gunshot than pregnancy. But to say so is embarrassing and makes me feel like a weaker woman.
Because my body is jacked up and I doubt that kids would be possible even if I was desperate to be a mother. My days are made possible by the pharmaceutical industry, and stopping my medications would be a bad thing.
Because I’m too often afraid I don’t have what it takes. But I don’t want you to think less of me. It is a matter of self-awareness, not self-esteem.
Because all of the pressures and what-ifs are overwhelming and I am sure I would mess it up.
Because it’s none of your damn business, that’s why.
“Oh, well there’s still time. You never know!” She smiled with her eyebrows raised.
“Have a nice day.”
Time is a funny thing. I learned too young that it is guaranteed for no one. I could live 5 more minutes or 5 more decades. If motherhood happens, I’ll do my best, but please… Please don’t assume I don’t understand motherhood, or sacrifice, or all-consuming love. Please stop asking why. Please don’t assume that my goals are the same as yours. Please don’t look at me with confused pity when I say I am childless. I’m as much of a woman as any mother is, so please stop making me feel like the weirdo.