A woman’s ability to have children was once a power worshipped. Now, it is something to be regulated. Regulation is enforced through stigmas, stereotypes and commodification. In heteronormative, Western culture a woman’s worth is connected to her ability and willingness to have a child. And not just one child, there is a hierarchy to adhere to. In addition to my politics, class and marital status I am a bad mother for being one and done– go me! When I assess where I am in life and where I want to be, raising an only child seems to be the best choice. Best choice, not ultimate decision.
When I shared the news that I may have hypo thyroid stuff going on, someone I didn’t really know (or like) matter-of-factly told me that I would no longer be able to have babies. This bothered me more than I would have assumed. They attacked my femininity. Well, “my” femininity as defined before I even left the womb.What kind of woman was I if I could not have children? A barren woman, a childless woman, a broken woman. Of course, I know better. I know what femininity means to me. I have a tailored definition for how I identify.
But still, what if I couldn’t have children? Let’s say I never did in the first place. How fucked up is it that we live in a world where a woman is deemed lesser than others because she does not have children? Because she exercised a choice she has the right to have. And then, if we do have children, if we make that choice, we do not have affordable, accessible childcare; we do not get to work without being a bad mother; we do not get to stay at home without being a bad mother; we really don’t get to choose anything about how we mother without upsetting others and their relentless set of ever changing rules.
My choice to have a child was never the issue. It is institutionalized laws of motherhood that is. In other words, other people who think they can have a say in what I do, live and mother.