Being a mom is wonderful, I’m sure. Perhaps you and your husband are the parents of two. Maybe your step kids are the light of your life. Perhaps you and your partner used a surrogate or adopted. However you became a mom, you should revel in that role. What you should not do, however, is bash other women for when they decide to do it.
Since adolescence, I have known that I wanted to become a mother later in life. I am now single, childless, never married, 37, loving life, and planning to start a family at 40. I could not be happier. But I often encounter condemnation from women who have had kids and really really really REALLY want you to, too.
Mamanazis, I call them.
And I am often rather taken aback by how bold they are with their disapproval. I guess part of the reason is that I look way younger than I actually am, #blackdontcrack, so when my age comes up, it’s as if they panic at how ANCIENT I am; then here comes the preachy “You don’t need to have a baby so late!” sermons and dismayed “Why would you do that??!?” alarm.
Let’s break down the four most common childless-shaming criticisms I get—and why all are utter bullshit.
1. “You’re wasting your best years!”
“Wasting”? Hardly. Professionally, I am focusing on my education and my career. Personally, I am traveling and writing a novel. Also, I am watching my friends who have kids, listening and learning as they share their joys and their regrets, the highs and the lows. I am not “wasting” these years, Mamanazi. I am gaining invaluable life experience as I prepare myself financially and mentally to have a child. Further, what exactly do you mean by “best”? If you mean physically best, then wow. I don’t have that problem, but I am sorry that you have lived such a difficult life that by the time you reach 40, you are incapable of keeping up with a child. And if you mean mentally, you could not be more wrong.
Know that 40-year-old me is far, FAR better suited to motherhood than 20- or 30-year-old me, by literally every metric.
2. “It’s not medically safe!”
I must have missed the part where you suddenly became an ob/gyn. Oh, that’s right—I didn’t and you’re not. So before you impart your medical “wisdom,” do some research. Better yet, ask an actual doctor, so that he or she can tell you that there is no huge danger to either mother or child when a 40-year-old woman has a baby. All you’re doing is fear mongering. And using outdated, erroneous information to do so. When I told my ob/gyn that I am planning to have a baby at 40, he said his wife had had their kids when she was 37 and 38, and the only problem she had was that she was annoyed by the term “geriatric pregnancy.”
3. “You’re selfish!”
When you say this, I realize you have no idea what that word actually means. Let me help you out:
“Selfish (adjective): lacking consideration for others.”
Listen, my consideration of my future child’s well-being is expressly why I’m waiting. Having a baby THIS VERY INSTANT RIGHT NOW, when I currently have zero desire to undertake the demands of motherhood, simply to prove to some clueless, nosy, busybody that I am not selfish, is absurd. Further, we all know at least one parent who shouldn’t be trusted with a pet lizard, much less a child. That person who, when you found out they were going to have a kid, all you could do was shake your head and hope for the best. Waiting until they were ready would have benefited everyone in that situation. As it has me.
4. “Well, I couldn’t handle a baby at this age!”
Mamanazi, I enthusiastically applaud the honesty of this particular attack. At least you’re not cloaking it in (medically inaccurate) concern or hiding it behind a wildly inaccurate assessment of my personality. Instead, you are freely admitting your problem with my being an older mom: it’s not the same decision you made. Apparently, you would rather gouge out both eyes than have to care for a baby at 40, and are therefore horrified that this is something I want to do. Thanks for the honesty! Two quick things: #1 the day I start living my life based on how you live(d) yours is a day that will never come, and #2 your eyes are safe, for rest assured you will have to care for my baby.
So, if you are a woman who, like me, is planning to become mom later in life, I hope reading this essay has provided you with some ammo to use against the HURRY AND GET PREGNANT!/IT’S TOO LATE FOR YOU TO GET PREGNANT! crowd. And if you are a Mamanazi who uses the above mentioned arguments, or any others, to condemn women who are waiting to have children, here’s hoping you have realized you need to stop.
Cease and desist, immediately.
Let me end with a solidarity shout-out to my sisters in childlessness who don’t plan to have children, ever. If I have to deal with this hypercritical foolishness simply for waiting, I can only imagine what you go through.
About The Author
Donni Jones was born and raised in Pensacola, FL and graduated from the University of West Florida in 2004 with a B.A. in English. She lives in Atlanta, GA, where she is an editor and author, and recently published a collection of short stories.
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