According to the Pew Research Center, “…18 percent of women now end their childbearing years without biological children, compared to 10 percent in 1976. The study looks at women between the ages of 40 and 44 (the range considered by researchers to be the end of childbearing years).” This is according to Jamie Kapalko of Salon.com, in her June 25th piece “Childless by Choice.”
Yes, Salon sometimes does have interesting, relevant articles pertaining to women’s and international issues, this in between their navel-gazing pieces on women who eat their own placentas.
Don’t look, don’t look, please don’t look! You looked, didn’t you? I’m sorry… I can only hope you didn’t read that on a full stomach…
The reasons for my remaining childless are personal. Right now, the decision to not have children is pretty much a no-brainer: no husband (or even significant other), and an undependable income. But even if that were to change, and I certainly hope it does, my mind won’t. Without going into detail, the Stanziolas have some pretty iffy genetic material that I don’t want to pass on to the next generation…
Five years ago, when I had just graduated from college and worked in a bookstore I saw many pregnant women come in, joyfully buying books for expectant parents. I saw myself in the future, with a husband and a baby playing in the grass, and thought how complete life would be. I was too young to picture the other side: the two a.m. feedings, tears from tetanus shots and vomit on a new shirt.
On a broader scale, I see how much women are defined by their status as mothers, regardless of their professional or academic accomplishments. Remember Sarah Palin’s trip last year, in which she applauded “mommy mayors and girl governors?” If not, that’s fine. It’s perfectly understandable that you’d would want to block everything that harpy says from your mind.
What Palin said was an extreme example (she is not, after all, known for thoughtful comments). Still, when was the last time you heard a male CEO, doctor or attorney asked how he balances the demands of work and family? Women can get great educations and pursue high-powered careers outside the home — they still earn less money, but that’s a subject for another column — but at home, they are expected, too often, to pull “second-shift,” where they cook, clean, help with homework, etc.
I imagine many, if not most, women are fulfilled by their children. It’s never been my intention to belittle other women’s choices. As for myself, I imagine that in twenty-odd years, I’ll happily join the ranks of the “18 percent.”