May. 13th, 2013

superdaintykate: (jumpyrat)
Mother's Day. SO MANY COMPLEX FEELINGS.

I am more okay with being childfree than I have ever been. It helps to have a partner who is also truly okay with it and makes assertions voluntarily to that effect. It also really helps to not have the equipment anymore, and to be at an age where people just assume that I have them and they just don't know about them.

The first years really, really sucked. Okay, not the *very* first years, those were pretty easy because I was in college and my peers were so not into the babyhaving thing. Pregnancy was still very much an "oh no" event. And my mother has never, ever been the "when are you giving me grandchildren" type. Whatever difficulties we may have had in our relationship, she never pressured me to get married or start cranking out babies. Bless her.

But the years after college, where I guess I was in prime babymaking mode, and I was out in the retail sphere, those years really, really sucked. Because I had to bat down the questions ALL THE TIME. Some of the ladies at the store were mortified that I wasn't taking J's name; not getting busy getting pregnant right away signaled that there was something Super Wrong with our relationship. (I remember an amusing moment in the first morning meeting I attended as a married woman; my store manager announced I had gotten married, I got a round of applause, and then everyone turned to me expectantly as she asked "and your name is?" And I got to give her a great "what are you, nuts?" look as I slowly said "THE SAME NAME I HAD WHEN I LEFT ON THURSDAY.")

Those years, people were relentless. They would ask if I had kids, and I would say no, with no inflection or affect, just stating a fact. And then they start circling, asking questions to clarify exactly how much I wanted kids, because I did, of course, I mean, every woman does, and exactly when I was going to get to having them because, you know, it was TIME. And I would just say I didn't want them, and that would make it so much worse. Either they would just keep at it right then, or it would keep. Coming. Up. There was a clutching desperation to it; it was pretty obvious that I had 1) shaken their worldview pretty significantly because they'd never questioned IF, only WHEN; and 2) they needed me to validate that worldview toot sweet because otherwise everything they had accepted about their own womanhood to that point came into question and they didn't like where that was headed.

I was young and cared too much about what people thought and I did not want to get sucked in and so my only defense at the time was to cut it off, to say I didn't like kids, to say "heck no" instead of just "no" and be THAT person. I would rather be The One Who Doesn't Like Kids and have a moment of goddamn peace, frankly. After a while I adopted the Curious approach when I had the time and and energy, and would start asking "why is this important to you?" I could only do that to people I didn't want to interact with regularly again, because it generally didn't end well.

It didn't matter, really, because the reaction was usually the same. Complete and utter incomprehension, followed by repeated assertions that I would change my mind. I would. I would change my mind. I would know. I would just KNOW. That ticker would go off and I would turn into a babyhaving demon. I would.

My store manager did that to me. I told her I didn't want kids, and she said I would, and I said, I don't think so, I have felt this way for almost twenty years, and she just shook her head and said no, no, no, with a knowing, sad smile. JESUS WHY WAS THIS EVEN A TOPIC OF CONVERSATION, AND WHY DO YOU NEED TO BE RIGHT ABOUT MY CHOICES? What the actual fuck.

It has diminished now, thankfully. So much that when the Question came up during my consults for my hyst, it startled me, it had been so long. But I get blindsided by the concreteness of my surgery and my decisions every so often. I went to Midnight Mass a few weeks after surgery and broke into tears sitting in my car after looking at a bunch of nativity scenes. Lately we've been watching "Call the Midwife" and some episodes will sit weird. I am still absolutely one hundred percent okay with and glad of my choices, but there is this one kind of defining Feminine Moment (for some people) that I won't ever have and *can't*, now. Before it made me uncomfortable, people ascribing a divine feminine and ultimate creative power seated in the uterus and blah blah; now it makes me sad. Not in a left-out way, but sad with the realization that this weirdness is so thoroughly ingrained that there isn't room in the collective psyche for women like me. Or, at least, not in, um, woo-woo second-wave feminism, I guess.

A side benefit, though, is I feel able to appreciate babies in public now. I couldn't, before; even if I thought they were cute (and I am not one of the Babies Are Automatically Cute people), I couldn't smile at one because that would open the door and then I would have to fight off the insistent Babyhavers who would descend on me from nowhere, I swear. Now people just think I'm going to snatch the kid; though I get that side-eye more often at dog parks, so, whatever.

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superdaintykate

November 2013

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