Embracing or Rejecting Womenhood

Since the beginning of time, women have usually been the only carrier of children. It is in our DNA what some call ‘maternal instinct’. However, the new wave of millennial women are often delaying having children (average age: 28-35), as securing their careers and finances is far more pressing, than becoming a caregiver, the latter can be very costly. Regardless of how far we have come as women in terms of progressing in our careers, thus having children has naturally taken a back seat to earning your bachelor’s degree, there is still a lot of expectations and misconceptions about childbearing that women continue to put on themselves, even for Gen Y gals.

  1. Baby fever (The biological clock)
Naturally speaking, humans struggle with being content with where they are at, especially when we easily compare our lives to that of others. To make matters worse, for women, the body naturally stops producing as many eggs, thus limiting your chances of getting pregnant as you age (past 35 years old, it becomes slim pickens). With pregnancy options like in vitro, surrogacy, freezing eggs, women in their late 20s to mid 30s are no longer worried about childbearing. However these options are often expensive, and many women still want to endure pregnancy naturally, by carrying their own newborns.

While it is your prerogative to want to have children, and it is a realistic worry about your body not being able to give birth, or wanting to have kids young (mid-twenties) so that you’re not a senior when you kids hit puberty, that way you get to play with them and physically have the strength to spend time with them. However, the pressure that some millennial couples, especially young women, put on themselves to have children, often comes from comparing yourself to your friends who are at the same stage of life but already have kids, and feeling like you are behind. Each stage of life should be enjoyed, and celebrated: dating, engagement, newlyweds, and marriage. Plus, just because you as an individual think that you are ready for children, does that mean that your partner is ready? When wanting to have children, what are your reason for wanting this? Because you babysat your neighbour’s baby a few times and think that it would be cute to have some of your own? Or you think that having a child is what unifies a family? Whatever the reason might be, it is the 21st century, unlike the Gen X who popped babies within 1 month of getting married, things are now shifting for the Gen Y’s. Having kids should be a blessing, but giving it more thoughts as to why you want it, is key.

  1. Not wanting to have children (You’re selfish)
Since women have always been the one able to carry children, the idea of rejecting to have a child while in a relationship, or even if you are deliberately single as a 40 year, you vocalizing that you do not want to have kids, somebody is bound to shame you by giving you ‘the look’ or tell you that ‘you will eventually change your mind’. Historically speaking, having children was once a practice for parents to guarantee that their children will stick around to help them with house labors and finances. Today’s world, things are shifting, and for many couples, having kids is both financially and emotionally not worth it, and that is okay.

Glits and glam aside, having kids is one of the biggest responsibilities one can have. Walking down the aisle and saying ‘I do’ is one thing, but carrying a human in your belly for 9 months (the pain), then bearing the responsibility to raise them, and financially having to account for a plus one in the household who will need diapers and baby foods (much more expensive than the average woman’s menstrual pads), doesn’t seem that exciting. As well, for many people who come from divorced homes or households where mom and dad staying married for the kids, having children could be an internalized fear your attention span drifting away from the romance of a marriage.

Having children doesn’t guarantee you entrance to heaven’s gates, nor is it your inherent responsibility as a woman to have kids. Whether or not you want kids, the choice should be yours.

  1. Work-Life Balance (It’s a myth)
One of the best piece of advice that I’ve heard was ‘in life, everything always requires some level of sacrifice, one way or another’. Having a full-time career, whether it is a 9-5 office type of thing, or one that requires you to occasionally travel, this time spent working will naturally take away time from having kids. That’s ok. However, being a full-time stay-at-home parent, is also a major sacrifice and one of the hardest jobs in the world, if you do not have a nanny to help. Stay-at-home parents have little to no time to themselves, taking care of your households becomes your full-time job (not 9-5, more like 24 hours shift).

That being said, with a supportive network of family, partner and friends, many young people are having kids and juggling the two. It seems exhausting, and not easy, but doable when the responsibilities of caring for a child to equally shared. Some parents carry the guilt of not being able to attend every soccer practice or dance recital, because they have to work. Or some feel like they’re not bringing in monetary value to the household because they care for the children all day. It seems like whatever you do, you can’t win. That is why, continuously reminding yourself that you are doing your best, by taking time to breath (even for a second in the washroom), or allocating an hour a day (early mornings) to read a book by yourself, is time to get recharged and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.

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