The apparent natural path to follow that guarantees a fulfilled life for any woman, according to society’s standards, entails becoming a mother.
We are constantly reminded of our ticking biological clock and sometimes even put in the awkward position of having to dispute that having a child may not actually be a blessing for some of us. Then there is the horrid dispute of ‘if your mother thought that way you would not have been here’.
As a woman I have learnt that society barely makes allowances for those who choose not to raise a family or want to put the idea on hold until they have a stable grip on life. While having a child isn’t necessarily a non-blessing, the responsibility placed on parents can be overwhelming and is often times underestimated and blissfully ignored. The excitement of having a child often overshadows frank realities. Aside from the fact that raising a healthy child in a stable environment is costly, in my opinion, it is the woman who inherits most of the burdensome changes and challenges because she is the one who carries and brings the child to life. Needless to say, she, too, is often the one having to put her aspirations on hold to be a mother. Natural feelings that may occur, such as experiencing low self-esteem and psychological issues that stem from balancing the new role are, according to society’s norms, shameful to express publicly.
I have often been told that I am a selfish person for being deliberate about my choice of not wanting to have a child in the early years of my marriage. I found myself being warned that my choice to put it on hold for a while may eventually cost me in some way or the other. It’s not that I don’t love children, I really do. But the flexibility of being able to play with them and then hand them back to their parents is always soothing to my soul. It proves to be a constant reminder of the commitment, resilience and selflessness I need to be capable of before choosing to commit to the role.
And perhaps the evolution of the Insta Mom makes me question my ability and causes me to feel inferior. An Insta Mom is a woman with children who makes managing motherhood look effortless all the while maintaining herself visually on the social media platform Instagram.
Unpacking the reasons for my decision, which are numerous, I am eternally grateful that my partner and I are on the same page. While the main consensus is wanting to focus on our careers intensively for now, I would like too to expound on my personal reservations that don’t necessarily take centre stage but are there nevertheless. Believe it or not, one of my greatest fears is losing myself, even though I’m quite sure the journey would be astonishing in its own way. I will always be in love with certain aspects of my current life, like enjoying alone time without any guilt.
The changing of my body is another big issue. Pregnancy is different for everyone, some people experience changes that are irreversible that they are sometimes not so happy with. Maybe, too, this image-centred world in which we live, that praises a certain type of ideal, perfect-looking mom who managed a quick pregnancy snap back, is what makes me feel intimated. Fear of the unknown suffocates almost everyone.
Just this week Rihanna and Halle Berry shared pictures of themselves that would have suggested they gained a bit a weight. The immediate response was suspicion of pregnancy as if weight gain is pregnancy-specific. Fans called out the pics as embarrassing and claimed they would start an unflattering trend. So just imagine always finding yourself being compared to a seemingly well put together mom.
Admitting this is neither selfish nor unfortunate but to live in denial is. The idealism of motherhood does not work for every woman and this is what we should make peace with.
To bring a child into this world expecting everything to be the same is skewed thinking. To believe self-esteem will not be challenged in this modern day is also a fallacy. Becoming a mother is something that should be thought out carefully and meticulously. It is not just about welcoming a new life into the world, but making peace with the unknown, preparing for the physical and mental changes and being comfortable with them. We also have to be considerate of ourselves; it’s not selfish just responsible self-care.