“I’ve born a lot of things and feel like I’ve mothered a lot of things, and I don’t believe it’s fair to put that expectation on others,” Jennifer Aniston, the Hollywood celebrity and accidental feminist philosopher, reportedly declared. Nothing speaks louder than these statements amid our society’s insane fixation on marriage and the ticking of biological clocks.
Outsiders could think I’m an old maid in her late twenties, which is exactly how they see me as a single woman. The fear and anxiety are evident.
Nonetheless, what if I receive my maternal thrills from living my life as it now is? What if the sight of my cat napping in the crook of my tummy makes my brain chemicals gush? Every working mother feels guilty when she returns home late from work and throws a sleepy look of disdain at her exhausted child. It’s not something unusual that, like you, I’ve spent the whole night tending to the sick dog, cleaning up vomit and cuddling his shivering body. Suppose I feel as proud of my mango tree as a mother would seeing her child perform on stage. To be a mother, one does not have to be a mother at all times.
When it comes to women who don’t want to have children, there’s a broader issue to consider. “No, I’m not going to do that to myself,” they remark as they pass by theatres filled with wailing infants. They should be able to make that kind of a decision. There is no way they can go food shopping without being questioned about their purportedly unorthodox lifestyle choices by the friendly neighbourhood aunty brigade.
To whom and when do they have the right to explain that it isn’t their business to their overly worried relatives, mommy blogger buddies, the gynaecologist’s critical assistant and well-meaning strangers? It’s not up for discussion if a woman can’t have children, doesn’t want children, or believes that diapers are a waste of money.
“No woman should have to justify her infertility,” says Dame Helen Mirren. What you’re doing is entirely out of the hands of anybody else.
Slowly, the traditional myth that childbearing completes a woman’s life is being debunked. Some women are beginning to realise that they may find fulfilment, pleasure and contentment outside of the gurgles, babbles and gurgles of a baby.
When we bring a dog home, I hope our friends will give us baby showers in the future, even if it’s unrealistic to expect society to become more progressive overnight.