Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Childless Expectations August 20, 2010

 On my morning flight yesterday I sat next to a woman who asked me (after we’d started a conversation) if I had children. When I told her I didn’t, she didn’t pass any comment, ask me any prying questions, or shift away from me in her seat. Instead, we had a long discussion about helicopter parents, parenting as a competitive sport, and the pressures of being a teacher in this age. She offered her opinions and accepted mine without even a sniff of condescension at my lack of hands-on parenting experience. She told me about her children—a psychology student daughter, who doesn’t take any crap from guys, and a son who’s a successful white rap artist. She told me, without gushing, that she was very proud of her children, that she loves them very much, but if she had it to do all over again, she’s not sure she would. This was one of the most refreshing conversations I’ve had on the subject of motherhood in a long time, but it was strangely unnerving. I’ve come to expect certain reactions from people when I tell them I don’t have children; I’ve come to expect that look of skepticism when I give an opinion on parenting. My expectations may have come from experience, but they’ve created my own form of prejudice. I expect mothers to judge me in a certain way, and sometimes, they just don’t.

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4 Responses to “Childless Expectations”

  1. Sue Says:

    That was really wonderful to hear. I often wonder when people don’t pry (because that seems to be the norm) if they some experience with either loss, infertility or being close to someone who doesn’t want children. I must admit, sometimes it makes me so curious I almost want to ask why they didn’t pry. It has been in my experience that those who judge or give unsolicited advice are the ones who became pregnant easily and had pregnancies without complications.

    • lmanterfield Says:

      Oh that’s really interesting. We’re so used to awkward questinos that we’re suspicious when someone doesn’t ask them! Maybe some people are just tactful! Imagine that.

  2. Robin Says:

    I had someone tell me recently that if she had it to do all over again she didn’t think she’d have children. I think those women feel more comfortable telling this to someone who does not have children, whether or not they know that the person to whom they are speaking is childless by choice or suffering infertility. I’m okay with that, but gauging my reaction is somewhat challenging.

  3. happynenes Says:

    There are good people in the world. : ) It is always refreshing to find this true.


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