If there's one decision I was rushed to make from having had breast cancer treatment, it's to figure out if I want to have a biological child or not. Before chemo started, I was informed that it will greatly lessen my chances of conceiving. And since I'm in my late 30s, it makes the probability even smaller as it is.
Two weeks before the first chemo infusion, I was told to consider freezing my eggs. My fertility doctor looked at me intensely and asked, "Jaymee. Tell me honestly from what your heart is telling you. Do you want to have a biological child?"
I paused and whispered, "I don't know. I'm not sure...."
My doctor then confirmed that having second thoughts simply means my conviction on motherhood isn't solid yet so she advised not to proceed. Egg freezing costs A LOT and there's no guarantee of conception as well so she suggested to just live my life how I want it, gamble on destiny meaning if it's meant to be, it will be since there's still a very small percentage that I can get pregnant in my early 40s, or consider other ways such as adoption or surrogate motherhood if natural conception can't be achieved.
In my early 20s, I did desire being a mom. Growing up bombarded with fairytales, romantic comedies, and the traditional upbringing where a woman's end goal is all about getting a husband and having kids, I wanted it for myself just like any other girl in my generation. Or so I thought.
Now at 38 years old, why the hell did I not pursue motherhood all along then? Simple. BECAUSE IT JUST NEVER HAPPENED. I had lots of opportunities in the past and yet, nothing came to fruition. (Or perhaps I didn't try harder to make it happen?) Therefore, my momma-hood stars never aligned and I've gladly accepted it.
If we will look at a different angle that says we are responsible with how our life pans out, I may have unconsciously not signed up for it. If so, here are the reasons I can think of:
1) I came from a dysfunctional family setting. It was traumatizing as a child to witness my family in constant psychological struggle. Not having role models to guide me through building a happy blood team, it was hard to visualize the perks and I wouldn't want any child to experience the nightmare I've been through.
2) I got a great career going on. My media peak happened in my late 20s until my early 30s while most girls in that age bracket were already scoping out potential partners to fulfill the motherhood dream. I didn't wanna take living my dream job for granted. It's something I worked hard for and so passionate about so I did everything I could to stay focused and excel on it. Speaking of motherhood, here's an advert I shot in Spain wherein I played the role of a young mom.
3) I was still developing my self-esteem and core values. Some people like me discover this later in life. And if you're in the process of soul searching, it's difficult to give yourself fully as a guardian to someone so helpless and dependent. I didn't feel confident to be accountable for a child's life and future when I am still struggling to give that security to myself.
4) I didn't have a great legacy to leave behind yet. I told myself when I have an offspring, I want to give him/her an amazing life. If all I have are inner struggles, financial instability and unhealed emotional wounds, why would I want to pass that on? It would be selfish for me to bear a child just to have some form of therapy and distraction from all my burdens.
5) I explored the world in a backpack and a suitcase. I started traveling solo in my 20s and it became a vice that was hard to kick out. I evolved, got cultured and learned so much at each city that I figured having a child would not have given me access to that nomad lifestyle I proudly did for almost a decade.
6) The world is NOT underpopulated. There are so many children without homes, families, proper education and care. I don't see the need to procreate when the quality of human beings are already being compromised due to too much quantity.
7) I witnessed how people are heavily struggling with it. Raising children are EXPENSIVE. It just doesn't make sense to do it if you can't shoulder the expenses and will bother other people for it or go on debt just because of societal pressure. Motherhood may look great on Facebook photos and Christmas cards but once I get to know the behind-the-scene stories, MOST (not all) of them are not handling the huge responsibilities it entail quite well. It's either they resent the kids for making their lives heavy or the kids hate their parents for not measuring up. Either way, I feel bad for the parents or sorry for the kids.
8) I saw how some people thrived great without it. Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Cameron Diaz, Queen Latifah, Kathy Bates and Tyra Banks. They are just few of the many women who are childfree yet thriving in their fields, living their lives fully and looking really great. They prove to the society that motherhood is not the only measure of a woman's success and happiness. There are other ways to give back.
9) I was joyfully distracted. Dating handsome men, meeting new people everywhere, trying out cool jobs, studying interesting courses, maintaining good friendships, reading mild-blowing books, writing blogs, engaging in fun activities... there's just tons to do, meet and see that stole my attention away from the pregnancy obsession. 10) I am being considerate. I will not ask someone to go scuba diving with me when I only have one oxygen tank, diving suit and goggles. Yes, there's a possibility that sharing gears could work and it would feel less threatening for me to have company in the deep waters but I'm not that inconsiderate to risk danger on myself and someone else. Again, it all boils down to not feeling ready to be responsible to bring an innocent life into this crazy world. So why force it for vanity's sake?
Last week, I shot a video blog that expresses my thoughts about childfree living. Here goes...
This vlog didn't do justice in expressing my deep sentiments on the topic so I made this written blog as well. It's just really bothersome how I get the unspoken judgment from the society for not being a mother in my late 30s.
I get it a lot in social settings that are highly traditional and family-oriented. The women would compare notes on their children's behaviors, discipline styles, diaper brands and breast feeding stories while I listen in the background out of respect and curiosity.
Then when they'd try to make a conversation and elicit something out of me, I'd talk about the activities I've been doing recently like yoga or blogging, travels or investments I'd like to pursue, career or studies that excite me, and all the other self-improvement related topics that a childless person would talk about. They listen but they give me this look that I'm somewhat "selfish" or "useless". Once I sense that vibe, I throw the topic back and just ask about motherhood so they'll do the talking instead. Then they reply with nonchalant one-liner answers to signal that I will never get it anyway since I'm not a mom. That it's a waste of saliva to talk about it.
Where do I place myself then? You share about life as a childfree woman, you come off as "selfish" for talking about you, yourself and you. But if you make them talk about motherhood and just be a good listener, you're still "useless" because you're not a mother yourself so you can't relate anyway. Classic case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.
People are always free to think what they want to think but as a person in a current state of living the childfree life, I feel that the society should cut us some slack. We have our own sets of stories and struggles too, like in my case, having gone through breast cancer and we are NOT hurting anyone by not having a child nor are we judging the parenthood path. So why make us feel less and discriminated for being so?
I'd rather be called selfish for wanting to better myself and contribute to the improvement of the quality of the human race than be called a "mother" and bring forth children you can't fully provide for just to validate one's purpose and alleviate some unresolved brokenness and loneliness.
Some people accidentally got on board in the motherhood bandwagon, some chose it, some did everything unimaginable to make it happen while some people are just not cut out for it or in my case, it didn't happen but life went on wonderfully anyway.
I'm not discouraging women from being mothers. I'm sure it's an enriching, selfless experience and I've seen others really do great at it and are so passionate with how it changed their lives. I support my friends who sailed through this direction.
But for those like me who aren't on that side of the boat, let go of the harsh judgment and just RESPECT our childfree path, whether it's by chance or by choice. Who knows if I eventually end up on that track in the future? Life can happen. And I'm receptive come what may.
But for now, mom-hood is not on my current deck of cards so I'll play with what I'm dealt with the best way I know how and that involves investing on personal growth, great experiences, strong relationships, endless learnings and being the best aunt to my loved ones' kids, which I absolutely love.
Life can be beautiful and happiness can be achieved with a child or not. It's all a matter of choosing gratefulness for what you have. So instead of bashing the unconventional childfree way of living, why not try respecting it and letting it be instead? After all, the Creator made us for a specific purpose so only He knows why motherhood is for others but not for some. Let's leave the judgment to Him and paint our life canvass with the colors given and help each other achieve our best masterpiece.