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I’m not a mom, and it’s complicated

By Quartz

Mother's Day is a celebration of women. But if you don't have children, it can be a fraught occasionRead full story

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  • Jessica  Davidoff
    Jessica Davidoffpro3-time founder. CEO at STATE Bags.

    It’s definitely a catch-22 but I don’t think you can ever know to what ends you’d go to become a mom until you actually are a mom. Before I had my son I wasn’t eager to become a mom, but I knew I didn’t want to grow old without children and given I was in my mid-thirties I knew I had to take the plunge sooner rather than later. I honestly thought I’d want to speed through to the teenage years but boy was I wrong. When I had my son everything changed and I fell in love with the new role. And if I

    It’s definitely a catch-22 but I don’t think you can ever know to what ends you’d go to become a mom until you actually are a mom. Before I had my son I wasn’t eager to become a mom, but I knew I didn’t want to grow old without children and given I was in my mid-thirties I knew I had to take the plunge sooner rather than later. I honestly thought I’d want to speed through to the teenage years but boy was I wrong. When I had my son everything changed and I fell in love with the new role. And if I knew what it would be like to be a mom, I’d go to the ends of the earth to become one....but if I had had trouble conceiving I might not have ever discovered this immense joy.

  • Ephrat Livni
    Ephrat LivniSenior Reporter at Quartz

    This is an essay that I really didn't want to write on a topic that's fraught and difficult to broach. But that is of course why it had to be written. Women are expected to be reverent about motherhood and to do everything in their power to make it happen. Those who can't or won't don't often dare speak up about the complexity of their decisions.

  • Susan  Grekso
    Susan Grekso cashier

    Each human being must decide what is right for themselves. People who stand in judgement of another are using their own beliefs to justify what is right for the other. Judging another’s choices is not our job.

  • Jane Bird
    Jane Bird

    I don’t think women owe anyone , an explanation as to how they want to live their lives . I ‘m friends with several women , who decided not to have children . Feeling , you owe others an explanation comes from a place of guilt in ourselves . Continual offering explanation regarding your reasoning , creates an environment , where it appears you are asking for comment or suggestion . Live your life and quit explaining yourself . Honestly , most people are so preoccupied with the complexity of their

    I don’t think women owe anyone , an explanation as to how they want to live their lives . I ‘m friends with several women , who decided not to have children . Feeling , you owe others an explanation comes from a place of guilt in ourselves . Continual offering explanation regarding your reasoning , creates an environment , where it appears you are asking for comment or suggestion . Live your life and quit explaining yourself . Honestly , most people are so preoccupied with the complexity of their own lives , that they basically could care less , if a woman wants children or not . I’m 60 yrs and I’m just now deciding that having children was a good decision .

  • Frank Jones
    Frank Jones

    I’m out.... uninstall... peace....

  • Fantastic perspectives shared here about how people react to women being child free VS childless as well as the pressures that women VS men face.

    Signed #MotherOfCats

  • Antonio Guerra
    Antonio Guerra

    Mother’s Day is intended for mothers if you don’t have kids you still have your birthday which is unique to you!

  • Glenn S.
    Glenn S.

    Just like it is a choice to become a mother, it is a choice not to become one. My friends and family are always so perplexed on my decision to not have kids because they see so many good qualities in me to love and raise a child, however, I’ve known I don’t want children since I was a child myself. That motherhood feeling never took over, and I never wondered or sought after it. Now that I am a bit older, 32, I still feel the same. Aside from just not wanting to be a mother ever, I don’t believe

    Just like it is a choice to become a mother, it is a choice not to become one. My friends and family are always so perplexed on my decision to not have kids because they see so many good qualities in me to love and raise a child, however, I’ve known I don’t want children since I was a child myself. That motherhood feeling never took over, and I never wondered or sought after it. Now that I am a bit older, 32, I still feel the same. Aside from just not wanting to be a mother ever, I don’t believe this world is suitable for ME to bring children into it. The world is changing and kids are not allowed to be kids anymore or even feel safe in places where they’re supposed to feel safe and be kids. The planet is becoming unsustainable for human life. Most of the time I don’t explain my reasons for not having kids, and honestly, I don’t have 50 reasons jotted down on paper to memorize to justify my decision, because the one that matters the most is MY personal one. The one that makes me ME and represents what I believe and stand for. Because our mission is to live our best life right? So who is to say that my life is best lived the same way as yours is? You may think that my life is incomplete without children, while I can think yours was wasted because you did nothing more than become a mom. We have so much potential to do great things but seem to think that motherhood is the highest of achievements for women. You sit there looking at maybe a successful sister, friend, cousin, stranger with no kids and hate the fact that you lack things you want in life and can’t have them so you put the blame on her. You may know Mothers that are over achievers and didn’t stop at just being moms with extravagant lives so you decide that they’re not good enough Mothers because how can she be while paying attention to all her success, and personal growth into a badass mom boss, while you’re just a regular mom? But you of course, you win the best mom in the world award cuz you just work for a rich guy or gal and take care of kids. I mean did you not have any more aspirations in life? Is that all you’re good for? I hope you never have to sit in a table full of successful people and say you’re just a stay at home mom or that your husband makes all the cash and you just stay home and look after the kids cuz is that the only reason you got pregnant? That little kid was your lottery ticket? Unless of course you’re the mom that had kids but also kept working to be more than a mom to set an example for her kids to be more than what society wants you to be. That makes you tick a little doesn’t it? The women that you attack for not having kids might feel just as crappy when you attack them. The majority of the time that we judge or don’t like something in someone is because that thing u don’t like resonates with you somehow. It’s something you don’t like about the person that you see in your self as well or something that you wish you were/have and can’t be/want. Everyone is different and happiness is not defined by becoming what’s expected of each person from others. What’s happiness for you may not be happiness for me. Some people are ok settling for less in life, while others are happy fulfilling their dreams and not being average joes/janes. Motherhood like everything else is not for every woman just like it is not for many men. There’s no need for justification for not wanting to be a mom if that’s what makes you complete and happy that’s enough no matter what others say. If becoming a mom is what makes your heart beat then that’s enough no matter what others say. But the same way you may think that not being a mother is the ultimate disrespect, being a mom can be your cover up for being a failure and accomplishing nothing more in life. It always goes both ways.

  • This article hit home, thank you Ephrat Livni for speaking up. In my opinion, it is society norms that even make women feel the pressure to have children, I have never felt that internal desire to have kids right away. However upon realization that it won’t happen naturally for my husband and I, we looked to adopt. We were following the roadmap: Get married, get a dog, start a family, the American dream (for some). And I will be honest, it is not an easy process to go through adoption, I would imagine

    This article hit home, thank you Ephrat Livni for speaking up. In my opinion, it is society norms that even make women feel the pressure to have children, I have never felt that internal desire to have kids right away. However upon realization that it won’t happen naturally for my husband and I, we looked to adopt. We were following the roadmap: Get married, get a dog, start a family, the American dream (for some). And I will be honest, it is not an easy process to go through adoption, I would imagine IVF is worse if it unsuccessful.

    For two people in their late 20’s still trying to get where they want to be in their careers, with student loans and debt like most millennials, it was a hard decision but we decided to not go through with things after getting more than 25% through the process and a few thousand dollars down not knowing what the outcome would be. It was knowing that we put all our savings into the adoption cost and knowing we will have nothing left for daycare once everything was said and done. We both agreed that neither one of us wanted to be a stay at home parent, and we were fine with that as we realized we perfectly happy on our own life path, not the 1950’s Norman Rockwell norm that has been preached to us our entire lives.

    So if I have anything to say to the general public, stop asking people in their 20s and 30s if or when they plan to have children. Things aren’t as they were in the past and people have different reasons for being childless or child free and at the end of the day it is no one else’s business.

  • Beverly Banks
    Beverly BanksWife, Mother, Grandmother at Retired

    Mothers and Motherhood is probably the most important life selection a woman will ever have! Loving teaching and helping a tiny person become a loving kind and strong human being. Nothing could be better!

  • Rudy Espinoza
    Rudy EspinozaStudent

    I believe it's actually a celebration of the woman's right to free labor and choice. A celebration of the mother to have had a son or daughter and raise them to be thoughtful enough to celebrate.

  • Godwin Bamsa
    Godwin Bamsa

    Being a parent or not has to be one of the most annoying conversations that people will just not stop feeling they are entitled to talk at me about.

    Why, when, how, where, so.... For neither wanting to marry or make kids, I am regarded at various times as selfish, wicked, impotent, gay, immature, a sinner, etc. And I am a guy who is stubborn and adamant about what he has decided on. I just shrug and smile. But what about women who have it several times worse? I can only image how harrowing all of

    Being a parent or not has to be one of the most annoying conversations that people will just not stop feeling they are entitled to talk at me about.

    Why, when, how, where, so.... For neither wanting to marry or make kids, I am regarded at various times as selfish, wicked, impotent, gay, immature, a sinner, etc. And I am a guy who is stubborn and adamant about what he has decided on. I just shrug and smile. But what about women who have it several times worse? I can only image how harrowing all of this must be.

    People need to remember to mind their damn business which, with kids and a spouse, is these days, quite enough to keep them very occupied.

  • Maria Luna
    Maria Luna

    You know what motherhood is? Another addition to the many things that can define womanhood. And that womanhood can only be defined by those who align with such an identity. It is us who decide how to walk the terrain of fertility and infertility. It is us who choose how we nurture ourselves, our womanhood and our humanity. Whether we have given birth to a biological child, whether we have adopted, whether we have never given birth or raised a child of our own, we have nurtured. When we nurture ourselves

    You know what motherhood is? Another addition to the many things that can define womanhood. And that womanhood can only be defined by those who align with such an identity. It is us who decide how to walk the terrain of fertility and infertility. It is us who choose how we nurture ourselves, our womanhood and our humanity. Whether we have given birth to a biological child, whether we have adopted, whether we have never given birth or raised a child of our own, we have nurtured. When we nurture ourselves, we are mothering. We choose how to define our womanhood. Punto. Your courage to put words to your experience also defines your womanhood, congratulations.

  • It’s certainly not selfish to not want kids. The case can be made that it is more selfish to have kids than to not have kids, certainly from the perspective of sustainability and waste control. Although certain countries facing aging populations may need younger generations to feed into social security programs, the global population is rising all the same, and it’s not my job to breed another worker especially under the guise of it being a woman’s calling, let alone an obligatory step in a woman’s

    It’s certainly not selfish to not want kids. The case can be made that it is more selfish to have kids than to not have kids, certainly from the perspective of sustainability and waste control. Although certain countries facing aging populations may need younger generations to feed into social security programs, the global population is rising all the same, and it’s not my job to breed another worker especially under the guise of it being a woman’s calling, let alone an obligatory step in a woman’s life.

    Philosophically, a child is quite literally a blended copy of yourself. But that’s selfless? Please. There’s many ways to “give back” to society that don’t include birthing a child or adopting, even. This narrative is tired and illogical. And the argument that you just don’t get ‘it’ unless you have kids could be reversed to say you don’t get ‘it’ unless you don’t have kids. There was a study done where people could anonymously write if “they could do it over again, would they have children?” and out of 10k respondents, 70% said “no.” No, as in no thank you they would not have kids again. But nobody is encouraged to talk about that feeling. Perhaps because after taking the parental plunge, you’re more likely to reconcile and justify that decision to yourself and especially, consciously to others. How else would you explain a person’s aggravation or annoyance in reaction to another’s life/body decision that affects them exactly 0%? Just like the gay guy down the street’s sex life doesn’t affect your sexuality, me becoming a mother or not doesn’t affect you, your family or your motherhood. It sounds more like a personal problem of those who judge that they should maybe reflect upon.

    “Not wanting kids is also often seen as selfish, and if you’re going to take this position, you should probably always add something about how much you enjoy your nieces and nephews, or love volunteering with kids and giving to your community.”

  • Marc Coaches
    Marc CoachesCallisto Foundation

    Have kids, don't have kids. I could careless, most people could careless. Your parents might be disappointed though. No, it is not normal and it will never be. How babies enter the world may radically change as well as how we view the dynamics of raising a child but this elemental drive of human nature will endure. It's okay to be different but don't expect people to be indifferent, although of course they should always be considerate and respectful and more so mind their own damn business.

  • David Moody
    David Moody

    Single women’s day is every day. The sacrifice of Mothers is thanked on Mothers Day.

  • Rebecca Mott
    Rebecca Mott

    We need to give up on judging women for this choice. I admire Mother Theresa who was a mother to many without giving birth. I know many women who are mothers to children without giving birth. I also know many women who have given birth but never became a Mother. Motherhood is a matter of intention born in your heart to make an impact on young lives. It should not be measured by giving birth.

  • Caprice Hawley
    Caprice Hawley

    I applaud all women whom are honest and strong enough to make that choice! Motherhood or not. I can't agree with a woman who actually believes she can do both at the same time, someone else pays the tab on that little lie weather it be the business or the children. You cannot dedicated 100% to either.

  • Theresa Keyes
    Theresa Keyes

    I think the greatest gift I gave to my daughters was to let them decide if and when they would have children. No pressure no expectations.

  • Ryan West
    Ryan West

    Hey ladies. Thanks for all the Godly work. Let's all but referral regret it. It takes s village. 💪💙

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