Thursday, June 10, 2010


In this life, it can be as hard to find validation as a single woman choosing not to have children, then it can be to find validation as a married woman choosing to be a homemaker. I know that fact, of course, but I don’t always realize it consciously. My cousin and I have been having long conversations about the role of women in our culture, and she has expressed the belief that our society’s prevailing attitude is “feministic,” where I am usually of the opinion, as all of you well know, that it is “misogynistic.”

About validation: it’s one of these things that I know isn’t necessary, but it doesn’t make it any easier to live without. I want affirmation and celebration of the choices I’m making, even if my conscious mind knows that expectation is entirely unrealistic. As time passes, as people question my choices, I realize that validation is something that’s never going to happen. Trying to redefine marriage, for instance. Or femininity. Or success.

I’m feeling melancholy today. Maybe it’s the BP oil spill, which makes me want to spew profanity at a rate equal to the spewing well. Maybe it’s my email, which refuses to work, even after hours of effort, and I know I should just give up and switch addresses or programs or something, but at this point I’ve wasted so much time on it I don’t want all of it to be in vain. Maybe it’s just feeling so completely out of step with all of the women in my life, almost all of whom, every last one, are pregnant. And I am not. And don’t want to be.

I’m realizing, though, that this being out of step isn’t going to get better. It’s just going to get worse. Every year that passes, my life and theirs will diverge farther and farther from each other. The center cannot hold.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, it breaks my heart that you seem so convinced that following a different path from the other women in your life will lead to discordance, that being "out of step" will inevitably end in - what? You don't just sound melancholy, you sound fatalistic about the course your relationship with these women will take. You are so lucky to live in a time and place where you can actually make the decision - on your own without anyone forcing you otherwise - to not have children (and to change your mind about it at any time, as well). I think the only person you need to seek validation from is yourself - own your decision, revel in it! Celebrate the differences between your choice and that of the other women in your life, appreciate the things you are able to do and experience that would be so, so altered if you had a child. Open your eyes and heart to how your decisions and theirs allow you all the rare opportunity to be enriched by your differences - not driven apart by them.

Take it from me, being a mother has many rewards, but I had just as many in the many years that I chose to remain childless.

Melissa said...

Monika, it's not so much that I think it will lead to discordance with the people in my life whom I love and who have chosen to have children--I just recognize that we are choosing different paths, that will of necessity carry us away from each other. I don't think I'm going to lose my relationships with my friends who are mothers. But I do recognize that their children demand more of their time, and that they will have less time for their friendship with me.

I don't think that I'll be driven apart from anyone, but any change in life causes rupture, in a way, as does age. I'm just acknowledging that reality.

Walter said...

Monika writes great words of wisdom, and does so beautifully. One woman's "realism" is another woman's "fatalism." If you love their children, they will always have a special place, space, and love for you. And you do. Reach out and you will be embraced. Leave Kierkegaard behind.

The Capt'n
(who is also distressed at your "realism.")