Let’s Not Attack the Mothers for Expressing their Authentic Experiences

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Dear Naomi Schaefer Riley (http://nypost.com/2017/02/18/having-a-baby-isnt-a-miracle-and-doesnt-make-you-a-goddess/)

For some women, yes, having their babies are miracles, and they are goddesses for doing it. Even I, a childless woman by circumstances and choice, know this. And why do I know this?

It is simple because I have experienced what it is like to find out that even though my decision was not to have children, the choice was sealed when I found out in summer 2016 that I had huge fibroids on my uterus. Yes, I was given two other options before I had my total hysterectomy. My gynecologist told me that I could choose from having: a uterine artery embolization, uterine myomectomy, or a total hysterectomy. A uterine artery embolization would shrink my fibroids; however, I could never get pregnant but still have my uterus intact. Even if I had a slipped and got pregnant, I would have a miscarriage. A uterine myomectomy would remove the fibroids, but my uterus would be sewn back up if I wanted to try and have children. Then, there was the total hysterectomy that would remove my fibroids, my uterus, and my fallopian tubes. My ovaries would be kept if they showed that they were healthy, and I made sure that the gynecologist promised, as she told me, to leave them in if I took that option. The reason why I did not seriously consider the first two options because the possibility of the fibroids coming back was a high risk. I didn’t want to have surgery again. Even though my uterus would be removed…which had been with me for thirty-five years of age, I decided to remove it because by instinct and education, I knew that the possibility of the fibroids returning was high. I also had the gut feeling that the fibroids were so big that doing the uterine myomectomy would not be worth the risk. The surgery would be more complicated because it would be longer, and my life would be in further jeopardy of something going wrong.

I opt for option three and how does this story relate to Beyoncé? The story relates because I relate to her. No, I didn’t want children, however, when Black women have been told by our culture that we are baby producing machines, and we think that we are healthy because we have a period every month…that doesn’t mean jack shit.

For most of my reproductive life, I had a period. There were a few instances where, when I attend graduate school the first time, I did not have a period for months. I contributed this to being overweight, stressed, and having anxiety issues. However, little did I know that all of this would be connected, and at thirty-five, I would find out that I had a fibroid so large that my gynecologist said that it was an equivalent to a twenty-four-week pregnancy.

How does this relate to Beyonce and her celebration of birthing babies and mothers being goddesses? Well, for a woman to even have a baby, her reproductive capabilities have to be highly functional in order for her to produce her child. For a woman who has had a miscarriage before and she is a Black woman, her chances of conceiving a healthy baby, that baby gestating for nine months, and that baby arriving in the world without any type of deficiencies is a miracle. If one looks back on slavery (look at Deborah Gray White’s A’r’nt I a Woman), the fact of Black female slaves reproducing regularly and abundantly is a myth. White male slave owners raped Black women expecting them to reproduce many children that would become automatic slaves to continue the Slavocracy. However, many Black female slaves had miscarriage after miscarriage. Many Black female slaves died from attempting to have fifteen, sixteen…even some, twenty slave children. Out of all of those slave children, some Black female slaves did not produce one live child. It was miraculous for Black female slaves, out of that many births, to have two or three children that survive and were functional individuals.

My point is this. You shame Beyoncé by trying to use Katherine Heigel’s story about pregnancy. Then, you try to use Adele and even shame her for mentioning that motherhood is difficult.

I have had MANY women tell me that they have LOST themselves after having children. Having to put their children before themselves…they lost a part of themselves. For you to have the audacity to talk about how woman have been having babies for thousands and thousands of years and using that as a sound logic to your argument about Beyoncé and Adele whining about conceiving, birthing, and taking care of children is a lack of empathy on your part.

I, as a childless woman, want to be treated with respect for the decision that I made. The same respect I treat with women who decide to have children. I do look at them as goddesses and their children as miracles. It is okay for Beyoncé to celebrate her pregnancy and her children as it is the same for Adele to tell us that she struggles with raising her son. It doesn’t make these women lesser, but it makes these women HONEST in an era where individuals like you write opinioned pieces to continue the cycle of hierarchal sexism.

That’s right. Hierarchal sexism. You believe that your opinion is valuable because you are appealing to individuals who you believe will applaud you for “calling out” how the celebration of how motherhood is being overdone by being mentioned in the media and other communicative forms.

However, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t work with me or other audience members because there are a lot more like me who do their homework. The lesson is this: the lesson is that Beyoncé and Adele took control over the speeches and express honestly how they really feel about being moms. Both of their narratives are perfectly acceptable like my narrative is. There is nothing wrong with women celebrating their motherhood. There is nothing wrong with women talking about their struggles of motherhood. There is nothing wrong with women who choose not to have biological or adoptive children or both. It is nothing wrong with those of us who can’t physically do it or have to make choices where they aren’t able to do it and decide it is okay. I will embrace the blessings that I do have. It is nothing wrong with those of us who long for it and cannot naturally reproduce, but say, hey, I will adopt and/or foster children…and even animals.

The point is that Beyoncé and Adele, as famous women, use their platforms to show us their HUMANITY as women. Black women have been demonized as being sexual deviants and sexually promiscuous throughout history that we are supposed to reproduce children at the drop of the hat. White women are shown that they are supposed to reproduce children and be so happy about it that even one thought about how hard it is being a mother makes the guilty. These dominant narratives do not ring true for the entire woman race, women of color race, and even White woman race. It is writers like you who need to take a long hard second look at…I am really giving these women a fair shake? Even if you didn’t express your view well, how can you go about expressing your opinion in a constructive way without ATTACKING OTHER WOMEN who are expressing their TRUTHS to being a mother.

Thanks,
from a childless mother woman who supports other mothers who have children
Sophia

Feeling Alone for Not Choosing Motherhood

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I am almost finished with Evelyn C. White’s Alice Walker: A Life, and one of the truths I’ve learned from it is that when you have an enormous talent and gift, a part of you will always feel alone because you know what it takes to actualize that gift and execute it. What continues to resonate in my head is when my co-worker friend, CMP says…when you have such a huge gift, sometimes, others who don’t understand will get left behind.

Today, I felt the loneliness again concerning motherhood, but what I felt is real because I’ve always felt it. Because I’ve chosen not to have kids because of my own personality and behaviors, I felt the pull of not relating to other women my age because I have decided not to become mother. Does it make me think about wanting to have children now? No, it does not. Yet, I recognize that I won’t completely relate to mothers because I am not one myself—not in that respect. Sure, I am a nurturing human being, but it is in the aspect of nurturing younger people who actually start having experiences and actually are able to communicate somewhat with others. I realize that my decision of not being a mother is the right decision. Since my sister and my nieces and nephew have been in my life, I realized that choosing not to have my own children is the right choice for me. I do not want to have children because I know who I am. All my decisions would revolve around my child or children. I would have to plot ahead all the time in what choices I made. In this regard, I admire mothers more than they will ever know because their lives instantly alter when they decide to have a child/children. It is no longer them anymore. It is them and their child/children. The majority of everything has to be planned around their children. In my case, I think about it all the time.

If I want to attend a writing conference and I was a mom, I would to have plan everything to make sure that the child was cared for. Instead of getting up first thing on weekday mornings and writing, I would have to check on the baby. Instead of going straight home and reading a book, I would have to get the baby out of childcare. Instead of sleeping in when I want to, I would have to get up and make sure that baby was okay. Instead of working a full time job and a side part time job, I would be working two full time jobs, and it would be harder to pay off my debt. Where would I find time to write while the baby was sleeping? How would that work exactly since I don’t like being on edge or have something hanging over my head? I could not drink wine when I wanted to.

Most of all, I am turned off by the hard work you have to put into in raising a kid. I realized that motherhood wasn’t for me when my sister told me about how her split with her boyfriend was affecting my three nieces and nephew—particularly my eldest niece. My eldest niece, rightly so, has been acting out because of all the fallout from the breakup. Basically, the only dad that she has ever known left the family, and she struggles, like any nine year old, in understanding why her father is not there. My sister asked me for advice, and I couldn’t even come up with the words. How in the hell do you explain to a nine year old that the family you had doesn’t exist in the way you once knew? How do you explain that? As I thought about ways to help my sister better explain to my eldest niece, this experience confirms that I do not want children. I don’t want to have to struggle every day to tell them the difficult shit that goes down sometimes. Maybe I was equipped with that ten or fifteen years ago—the patience—but I don’t have it now. I have enough for my nieces and nephew but not 24/7.

And NO, it does not make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean I don’t have motherly instincts. What it means is that I choose to create my writing and birth my writing. To me, writing is easy hard in a way that rearing children is not. I believe when parents’ rear children, of course, the expectations are different. I can leave a piece of writing alone and not have to worry about it. If I become super busy, I can leave it alone for several days and think about it. You cannot do that with children. In my case, I know what kind of parent I would be. I would dedicate all my time to make sure that they were raised the best to my ability. I would encourage them to read and express themselves. I would teach them hard work. It is okay to be dedicated, but it is also important to have time for yourself. In the process of doing all of this for them, I would struggle so super hard to maintain myself. Let me explain.

All this creative energy that buzzes around me…it would dim a lot if I had children. I would think more about them and their well-being. My well-being? It would become a second class citizen. For those who know me and who have already spoken, I really do appreciate you thinking that I would make a great mom. I really do appreciate it. Yet, I don’t want to be a great mom. I want to be a great writer. The girl you see…as one Mormon member told me, that fire in me, it fuels me to be who I am. If I had kids, I really believe that fire would die down so low that the girl you see now…the woman you see now…she would buried with worrying about how well her children would do in the world.

I take that lesson page from my Grandmother’s book. My grandmother and I was discussing this and that. Then, she asked me, “Sophia, are you going to have children?” I replied, “I don’t think so Grandma. I don’t think it is for me.” She replied, “I don’t blame you. There is a lot of bad things in the world that happens.” I think what my grandmother meant was that I would have an uphill battle fighting and fighting to make sure that my children at least had a chance to do better. One of the biggest lessons I take from my Grandmother’s life is this…

That she didn’t get an opportunity to do the things I’ve done. I have a BA degree. I went to graduate school for a MA degree. I’ve been writing since I was in middle school, and I have a real shot at a being a writer and living over a 100. I feel her spirit encouraging me to make the decisions she dare didn’t do. She had my mom, and my mom had me. I am here to make the dream actually a reality, and I just can’t do it with kids. Most of all, I don’t want to do it.

Fellow women, I am not trying to say that it is something wrong with you having kids who truly want them. I understand why you want to have children. You have a biological instinct to wanting to have them. You can envision yourself having a family. You know what you are sort of getting into with having children. I respect and admire your decision greatly.

However, please extend me the same courtesy as well. I understand what it takes to raise children as well, and I have looked at all the options, and I accept my decision. Could I handle a children or children? Probably. Would have a room of my own? Metaphorically and literally, no, I wouldn’t. Does it make me less of a woman? Hell no, it doesn’t. If anything, it makes me a caring and responsible person because I know where my boundaries lie.

So, what has Alice Walker taught me about motherhood so far? It is perfectly acceptable for me not to have children AND NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. As it is acceptable for a woman to become a mom and NOT FEEL GUILTY about being a perfect mom. What all us women need to do is understand each other and our decisions and not put on airs or judgements on one another.

Best,
Sophia