It seems like at every turn, we’re reminded that our biological clock is ticking and our eggs are dying – if you want kids, you need to hurry it up already.
If you are a woman reading this, then you may have experienced being continually bombarded with messages telling you that if you want to have children, you better hurry up and have them now while you’re still a young adult. We’re told that our bodies will be able to “bounce back” and have the energy required to nurture small children. (Even the Queen Beyonce herself mentions in interviews that her body had undergone many changes after the birth of her children.)
There’s an incredible amount of pressure on women to “have it all” – career, family, home, body, etc. – and yet, if we subscribe to the idea of having babies at a young age, many of us would be having them straight out of college, just in time to settle in with a ton of student loan debt. At present, women have roughly about 12 years to go to college, graduate, and pay off those loans, then find a job, buy property, find Mr. or Mrs. Right, and have kids if they want to “achieve it all” before turning 30. It’s unrealistic, and an insane amount of pressure.
More than $900 billion of the nation’s $1.4 trillion in student loan debt belongs to women, who make up more of the nation’s university students and are more likely to take out loans, according to a study by the American Association of University Women.* (The Washington Post)
Not to mention, because of the persistent wage gap – sorry to be the bearer of bad news here – women still make about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes in 2019 – making those loans even harder to pay back. Maybe women just can’t afford to be mothers right now. (Some of my friends have managed to make it work, and I applaud them, as I know it has not been easy.)
Personally, having kids was something that was never really on my radar. There was and still are so many things I want to do. At 29, I’m seeing most of my friends have baby #2, and I’m happy for them. I love and respect the fact that they are making a little family of their own. They also respect that kids are the furthest thing from my mind, as they’re used to me giving more “awws” to pictures of their dogs than to their kids, and you know what? That’s perfectly OK.
This whole assessment, of course, is in no way meant to throw shade at women who dream of starting a family and having children. Some women cannot have babies. Some women can, but choose not to. And some women can, and do, want more babies.
Whatever your situation, you are worthy of respect and love. I am not currently struggling with infertility, and my heart goes out to all the women who are. Honestly, I don’t know if I can have kids (because I’ve never tried), but that doesn’t mean that I never want children. The bottom line is that we shouldn’t put pressure on other women to have children or shame them for not wanting children. You never know what someone is going through – so being thoughtful and respectful is critically important.
For the first time in human history, women truly do have choices. A lot of women today may not actually feel pressured to have kids they don’t want. Yet for many of us, there is also a very real societal pressure that constantly nags away at us, even if we’re not fully aware of it. (I know
when I was a little girl I saw all types of toy baby dolls, I wasn’t even aware that I was being conditioned at such a young age to feel like I was supposed to grow up and be a mommy, because that’s just what women did.)
Ultimately, what works for one woman is not going to work for another. We simply can’t predict love or fertility or the most “ideal time” for everything, it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s time that as a society we stopped putting this kind of pressure on women. In the end, it’s your body and your journey, so know this; do what feels right, when it feels right – no matter what anyone else tries to tell you. – AS
Alicia is a 29-year-old lover of Thai food, 90’s hip hop and R&B. She feels most empowered when she is writing or telling a story, especially if her message can inspire and encourage someone else to feel like their best self. She also enjoys reading and working on art projects in her spare time, and prides herself on being the comedian in her girl gang.