Monday, June 6, 2016


Let's talk about choice. A woman has the right to choose not to have a child without being judged. I am not talking about abortion. I am talking about deciding to just not have children. The fact that this needs to even be discussed sounds crazy right? Recently I read an open letter by Joy Bryant on on her decision to not have children- or should I say a letter telling people to stop pushing their choices on her. I, like many of you, have children, but I respect her choice and know others that also share her point of view.

You may recognize Joy from a variety of movies and TV shows. To many she is best know as Jasmin on NBC's Parenthood. She has played a mom five times and therefore, many people think she would make a great mom. Crazy right? Yet, she is still not interested in the role of full time mom past "cut." I am not sure when I made the choice that I wanted children. I wasn't the type of girl that talked about getting married and having babies. At some point I just knew that it was the right choice for me. I am sure that at some point Joy Bryant made that same discovery about herself of not wanting children. Neither of us is wrong, we just know what we want. I am married and have two kids. In a way it's what society expects from me. I am ok with that, because I made that choice. What Joy is finding that she is constantly being questioning on her choice to not have a child. There are the usual comments, "But you'll have beautiful children!" Which this may be true, but as Joy likes to point out, "This one is the most ridiculous of all the reasons given to me, and it is also my personal favorite. So I should have kids just because they would possibly be beautiful (and, let's not forget, smart and athletic)? I should commit to one of the toughest jobs in the world, all for the sake of populating the planet with a super-human specimen of good breeding? No, thanks. I'm good." This I think this a comment we moms love. This is a hard job! And sometimes what gets you through it all is knowing that you love this child and that this is the choice you made. This was our choice, dirty diaper and tantrums, this was our choice. It's your life, if you don't want the job don't submit your resume and no one should judge. 

There are many woman who have had unwanted babies. Are they a better women because they fulfilled what society said their role is... to be a mother?  I asked a dear friend, Julie Grace, who has also chosen not to have kids about how her role as a woman in this society has changed by not wanting to have children. "Living life the best way you can should be every humans goal. However, there are certain societal expectations for women, or "roles" we are expected to fill. Whether you are a mother, a sister, a friend or a wife, you can be a "mother" to people without birthing them. I care for and try to nurture all of the people in my life, blood or not." Taking that one essence away from the picture doesn't make a woman less loving or nurturing, just not a mother. 
Julie at the top of a mountain in Kauai

Some may succumb to the pressure of having kids. Will that make then a good mother? I read a comment on Facebook from a woman that thank goodness these woman don't have kids. If they did they would abuse their children. I will argue that many woman choose to have kids and yet are abuse parents. "It's frustrating when people try to put me in another category because I don't have kids (I'm somehow not normal). Or people assume since I don't have kids, that I don't like kids," Julie says "It has nothing to do with not being a loving person. It may actually be the smartest choice a woman can make if she is unsure if she wants a baby. Are they wrong or selfish? I actually believe they are being selfless. They are choosing to follow their own path and not a life they didn't want for themselves. Just because one could breed a child, doesn't mean they should. We have all seen those parents or know those present that are just not present in their child's lives. Why put that on someone? Parenthood is a life long commitment with many up and downs physically and emotionally.
It took a lot of therapy and a deathbed reconciliation with my own mother to realize that she wasn't the monster I made her out to be. She was just a human being who made shitty choices that deeply affected me. I wouldn't be that kind of mother. My grandmother, on the other hand, was all sacrifice, putting the needs of her kids and then me ahead of her own, going without to make sure everyone had what they needed. She died of a broken heart. I wouldn't be that kind of mother either. So on the scale of martyr to monster, I'd probably fall somewhere in the human range. I'd be a "good enough" mother. Still not a good enough reason for me to actually be someone's mother. I'd be a good competitive eater, too, doesn't mean I should.
                                                    ~ Joy Bryant
I know several wonderful woman who are happily married who do not have kids by choice. They are caring, loving and smart. Do I think they have everything they need to be a great mom? Yes, I do. Do I think more of them because they choose not to have kids? Yes. One was a former boss of mine. Whenever someone was having a baby she would make the cutest baby blankets. She is happily married and they are enjoying their life together. Julie our dear friend has also made the choice to not have children. She too is happily married. Unlike Joy Bryant who doesn't, as she says, "breed," Julie is curious about being pregnant, "People usually tell me how life-changing (pregnancy) it is, and express how it is magical and amazing and I'm missing out. I have always thought being pregnant would be an amazing experience. I would love to be pregnant, and know the feeling of having life inside me, I just have no desire to raise a child in this world."
Joy with her TV family on Parenthood
"But you'll have beautiful children!" 
This one is the most ridiculous of all the reasons given to me, and it is also my personal favorite. So I should have kids just because they would possibly be beautiful (and, let's not forget, smart and athletic)?
I should commit to one of the toughest jobs in the world, all for the sake of populating the planet with a super-human specimen of good breeding? No, thanks. I'm good.
But I guess I can't blame them, right? I mean, they look at me and my tall, handsome stuntman husband and can't wrap their brains around why we would purposely waste such prime eggs and sperm, the selfish people we are. I guess I'm the selfish one, because I refuse to be the vessel through which mankind is delivered from its mediocrity.
                                                    ~Joy Bryant

When I read the above in Joy's letter, I thought that above was a low blow. First I think this is between the couple and not anyone else. Don't think this at some point wasn't a conversation. Joy mentioned that they did talk about it he is ok with her choice. My mother once told me that before marriage a couple should talk about kids. If it's very important to one person and not to the other then they should let the person go. They will always be yearning for that child. If one is fine with the choice then enjoy each other and don't have kids. It's no one's business but their own.  There is no victim- only a choice for them both.
I know people don't mean any harm, but this really shouldn't be an issue at all, because what I choose to do or not do with my womb should be of no concern to anyone but my husband. While he would like to have kids, he loves and respects me enough to understand and accept my decision: that I don't want to be a mother, that I don't want to have children, that I don't have the need to breed.
I'm going to say that one more time:
I don't have the need to breed. 
                                                     ~ Joy Bryant
"I can honestly say I am curious how things would be if we had a child or two. I would love to see his eyes in the eyes of a child, and I have no doubt we would be great parents" says Julie, "Not curious enough to do it though. I was lucky he didn't want children either, so it didn't affect our relationship at all. I love my husband and our life together. For some reason, I simply don't feel a desire or biological pull to procreate." 

Are they being selfish? I hear that often when describing woman who don't want to have kids. It's partly true. "In my late 20s, as my high school and college friends were beginning or expanding their families. I realized I wanted the freedom to go where I wanted, when I wanted and explore this planet as much as possible," Julie says "I saw the day-to-day grind my friends with kids went through and was thankful I didn't have those responsibilities." But don't they owe it to themselves to be happy even if that doesn't mean having a baby?

Maybe Joy and Julie ask themselves the question of  "what if?" Julie said, "When I first graduated college, I was in a long term relationship with a man 4 yrs older than me. He was ready to 'settle down' and get married, buy a house and have children; basically he wanted the 'American Dream.' I loved him and thought I wanted that too, just not then. I was 21," Julie says, " I decided to do some traveling first, and once I saw the world and the wonderful and scary things outside my own little 'American Dream' bubble, I started to question whether I wanted to bring more children into this world" 

What is sad is that the negative comments or pressure is coming from other woman. Many woman have chosen to not have kids and have a career. Many men have too and they are not judged. In fact the baby question rarely gets asked to men. Being in a very distinguished job position Julie says, "I think we are slowly gaining equality in the workplace, and some of the women who have chosen to pursue career over motherhood have lead the way. This is not an exclusive club though. May women can do both, and do it well. Many women do not have a choice. I thing society is slowly learning that raising children isn't a mother's "role" any more. There are many stay at home fathers, Aunts, Uncles, same-sex parents and grandparents helping to raise the children. Motherhood isn't just for women any more." So woman, before judging, think of those women who have paved the way for us to have those jobs, to make those choices. If not for the women of today then for the women of tomorrow.
"Also, choosing not to have children doesn't exclude me from being a mother either. I am a mother to my pets, my friends, my home and even to my inner child" ~ Julie Grace
Woman who don't want children realize that it just isn't the right choice for them. That doesn't mean that they are less of a woman. Maybe we should be sending them a thank you basket that reads: thank you for not adding to our over-population; thank you for not being a so-so parent; thank you for not adding your child on the preschool waiting list ahead of mine; thank you for helping us conserve water and above all, thank you for knowing yourself xoxo

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