Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

March 22, 2015

Motherhood, or the Lack Thereof

Why don’t you have kids yet? 

Have you tried? Are you trying?

Why don’t you want kids?

But children are the most amazing gift!

I was like you. But now I have children and they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Children will give you so much gratification. 

You’ll realize that without children, life is pretty pointless.

Children will give your life meaning.

My life is so much better since I’ve had children.

But you’re good with children! You’d be a great mom!

What’s more important than children? 

How do you know you’ll be a bad parents unless you have kids?

What’s the point of being successful and wealthy if you’re not going to have anyone to leave it behind to?

Don’t you want to be remembered for something other than being good at your job?

Don’t you want to leave behind a legacy?

You’ll change your mind.

 

I hear these all the time. Sometimes multiple times. Sometimes one after the other. Sometimes just in passing. The people who say them are usually not malicious. But they’re careless. They’re not thinking when they say them. And they hurt. Every single time.

I’m a 23-year old woman living in Suburbia, Utah. I have a boyfriend, but I’m not married. For some reason, there are lots of people who don’t want to validate our nearly 7-year relationship simply because we haven’t put it in writing. The job that I love keeps me busy and away from home over 50 hours a week. I volunteer whenever I can. And I have a number of passions that I devote almost all my spare time to. I don’t make a lot of money; I can support myself and two dog-babies, but that’s about it.

So why then, do people who have no right to an opinion feel that I should have children?

I know they don’t mean to upset me. But it’s absolutely infuriating. I deal with it constantly. Nearly every day, I have to explain myself to someone else. Why I’m not married, why I’m not trying to have children, why I have no desire to have children, why I have no maternal instinct pushing me procreate. This harassment is nonstop.

Why should I have to explain myself? Why should I have to validate my feelings towards having children? Why should I have to constantly battle for my decisions? Is it anyone’s place but mine to decide whether or not to have kids? Why am I not “complete” until I’ve had kids? Why am I not good enough the way I am now?

The fact is this: I have no desire to have children. I have no desire to adopt children. I have no desire to raise another human being. Not now. Possibly not ever. That’s it. That’s my opinion and that’s the only opinion that matters.

I shouldn’t have to explain why because it’s nobody else’s goddamn business but mine and my partner’s. But I’ll do it anyway. Maybe so people will get off my back.

 

1. If I had children, I would want to make them my #1 priority. 

The fact that having children is not my #1 priority means that there are things in my life that are more important than kids. My career, my partner, my dogs, my hobbies, traveling the world. Literally every other goal is more important to me than having kids. Children deserve mothers who want them more than anything in the world. I would not be that mother.

2. I have depression.

I’ve been diagnosed with severe depression, insomnia, general anxiety, and bipolar tendencies. I have fought with suicidal ideation for the past five years. I am currently at risk of suicide. I am currently fighting the urge to self-medicate. Does that sound like a stable mother to you? I would never wish these things on another living creature. I cannot morally allow myself to pass these onto a child.

3. I cannot support a child.

Not only am I not emotionally or mentally capable to handle all the needs and wants of a child, I am not financially prepared to raise a child. I would want my child to have the entire world at their fingertips. Until that is a opportunity I can guarantee them, I will not even entertain ideas of having children.

4. I do not aspire to be a mother, nor do I have the ambition.

I feel that a good parent should want to be the best parent to their children. A good parent should want to work on being the best parent every day for the rest of their life. A good parent should want to dedicate their lives to being a parent. I do not feel this way. So I can’t recommend myself to be the mother to a child.

5. I just don’t fucking feel like it.

At the end of the day, this should be an acceptable response to the question “Why don’t you want to have kids?” This should be enough. I don’t want to have kids because I don’t want to have kids. Do you really want someone who is so adamant on not having children… to have children? Really?

 

 

But still, despite all the things that I could possibly say… everyone else knows better.

 

You’ll change your mind.

 

You’ll change your mind.

 

You’ll change your mind.

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December 11, 2013

Emasculating Men: A Fiction Packaged as Fact

No, we’re not talking about castration. If that’s what you’re here for, I’m sorry to disappoint you. This is about the other definition for emasculate:

emas·cu·late  transitive verb \i-ˈmas-kyə-ˌlāt\
: to make (a man) feel less masculine : to deprive (a man) of his male strength, role, etc.
: to make (something) weaker or less effective

Despite how many of us women were raised, it’s not our job to make accommodations in our lives for the male ego. I see it time and time again, where an otherwise powerful and independent woman feels this pang of obligation to let a man do something for her that she could very well do on her own. 

You see women feign weakness so that a man can open a bottle for her. Women walk slower so that men can get to the door first. Women resist the knee-jerk reaction to reach for the bill at dinner. You even see women pretending to be more drunk than they actually are so that men can feel like they have more self-control. But why? Why would anyone put so much effort into something as silly as this? When I ask men what they think about this practice, even they are stunned. “Why would you want to make yourself look like an idiot?” 

We do it because we’ve been taught to. Because many of us have been conditioned since childhood to give men opportunities to feel superior to women. We’ve been taught how to constantly look like we’re in need of assistance. Somewhere down the line, it was decided for us that in order for a man to feel normal (AKA to feel “like a man”), he needs to always have something to hold over a woman. Strength, power, influence, money. And we, as women, have been told that if you treat a man with the respect that his male role entitles him to, then he will in turn be gracious enough to use his strength, power, influence, and money to your benefit. 

Essentially, women have been taught to do one thing over another (far easier) thing, for fear of emasculating her male counterpart.

This reminds me of an interesting conversation I once had with my father. I was probably only seventeen at the time and we were at a family friend’s house to watch a boxing match. My family – including my father, mother, younger sister, and partner – were all in attendance. My partner and I were talking to some friends and I brought up an anecdote about my partner getting really, really scared during a horror movie. Everyone laughed and enjoyed the story. But moments later, my father approached me and asked to speak to me in private.

We moved away from the group and my father said to me, “You can’t do that.” When I asked him what he was referring to, he said, “You can’t tell everyone that he was scared and you weren’t. Do you know how emasculating that is for a man? You need to apologize.” 

I looked at my partner from across the room and he seemed perfectly fine to me, smiling and laughing away with our friends. He didn’t seem betrayed or embarrassed, so I was confused as to why my father was so concerned.

Later that week, I brought it up with my partner. I asked him if I made him feel embarrassed when I told that story and he said no. He said it was funny and if the tables had been turned, he would have told the same story about me. “We pick on each other because we love each other. That’s just what we do,” he said. 

That was a really defining moment in my life. And without really meaning to, my father changed the entire dynamic of our father-daughter relationship. Because in that moment, I felt that he put protecting the social construction of masculinity and the role of the man over the contentment and happiness of his daughter. He essentially drew a line in the sand, saying, “These are the things you cannot do if you want to be a good woman for your partner,” and dared me to cross it. 

The fact of the matter is that there is no one-size-fits-all for interactions between men and women. There is no single right way to do things. If your significant other wants to pay for your dinner and you want them to pay for your dinner, that’s great. As long as the two of you agree that that’s the way you want to handle the situation, then it works for you! And that’s awesome!

But you should never feel like you have to sacrifice your authenticity to accommodate for someone else’s feel-goods. Whoever decided that was okay was – in my opinion – an idiot. In a truly great relationship – romantic or otherwise – both parties should feel like they contribute equally to the success of the relationship. If one person constantly needs to feel superior to the other, that should be a big red flag that something needs fixing. 

September 27, 2013

A Surprise Reading from Brian Doyle

Maybe I just don’t pay attention enough to what’s going on around campus, but apparently the Clark Library Open House is this afternoon. This was a rare opportunity to see the wonderful individuals responsible for making the renovation possible. Alumni, donors, and friends of University are still wandering through the new-and-improved space. Having been here for over a month now, I’ve gotten used to that “new library” feel that all these people are experiencing. I can still marvel at all the beauty, but not quite in the same way that these newcomers. It’s a wonderful thing to watch someone light up as they enter a room, overwhelmed by all the new and beautiful sights.

I’ve settled into a cozy chair here on the main floor. I’ve been quite content to sit here for the past hour or so. But about half an hour into my study session, an eccentric looking man with a salt-and-pepper beard walks over to me, smiling profusely. It was Brian Doyle. As fate would have it, I happened to be sitting in the section of the library that he was doing his author reading in.

Before he began, he looked at me and said, “I’m sorry for intruding in your circle, but I’ve got to do this reading. So if I start yelling, know that I’m not yelling at you.” Rather than quietly pack up and move to different part of the library like the other students in the area, I decided to stay and listen.

You know how listening to an amazing storyteller can bring you to tears? Well, Brian did precisely that for everyone in attendance, himself included. You could feel his love for the University in his voice as it quivered through each sentence.
Afterwards, he turns to me and says, “You can get back to studying now; sorry for yelling in your ear,” handing me a copy of the Autumn 2013 Portland Magazine. It’s people like Brian that make me glad I decided to come to the University of Portland.