I have decided with my husband to have a child. After years and years of talking it through, considering all possible scenarios, and a year spent on very active discussions and mapping I have finally reached the conclusion that the 60% of pros outweigh the 40% of cons, and there are few key reasons for me to want to have a baby no matter the consequences.
Couple of months ago I have quit the contraceptive hormones, got tested for all possible things that matter, started taking all necessary medication. I knew with my health it was not going to be easy. Magnesium-related tetany (?) (pl. tężyczka utajona), hypothyroidism, general mental health issues and my newly discovered C-PTSD, I knew there are some risks, but it didn’t seem something impossible to get by, it just requires discipline and proper planning. I believe a bigger issue is not knowing something, and that is the main reason behind issues with pregnancies. But if you are, and most importantly your doctors are aware of the problem, there are a lot of things to be done about it, modern medicine really works and the improvements are made yearly.
I’ve always wanted to have children. I remember when I was 14, 15 years old, contemplating in grasps of melancholy, yearning for the relase of the love I had to give. I wanted to start my own family and felt like a mother way before it made sense for me to pursue it, at least for our times. I didn’t know if I’d be a wife one day, but sure as hell I knew I’d be a mother.
Right now I am less sure of that, the only thing I’m sure of is that I will do what it takes to succeed, but also if there are things out of my control that would not make that possible, it would still be okay. I had to face certain hard truths about my general mental state, and what always haunted me was a feeling of extreme isolation and loneliness. One that doesn’t get fixed when I’m around people, if anything it gets worse. It was never a main focus for me, it was not the main reason for wanting to become a mother, but it certainly did impact the eagerness for it and the sense that there is no other way. You know, that and the societal pressure.
While I am far being the person who will do what they’re told, it does require some strong foundation of self-worth and self-awareness to not bend to the pressure of society, in the context of defining womanhood. I don’t care much about the gender one way or the other, but I know I exist as a woman, and there are strings attached. People perceive me as a woman, they have expectations of me and beliefs based on that, and the one that is the most rooted in our society (in Poland at least) is that you can either be a mother or your life has no worth. It’s not a big problem when you are the person who decides on your life’s worth, it doesn’t crush you, but there is certain aura of hostility that you experience. The knowledge that your life means nothing for your motherland folk does carry a weight, and being a strong person lets you carry it, but no matter how strong you are and how insignificant the weight might be, it tires you sooner or later. Especially if it’s just an addition to the weights you already carried for so many years, and let’s face it, women do carry a lot.
Seems like this is a heavier one too, you aren’t scrutinized for your looks or life choices in this case, but by the inability to deliver your supposed reason for existence. Women exist to bear children (in our society’s eyes), and women are not considered the default human being, if that makes sense. The default human being in mentality of Poland is a man, despite biology saying otherwise. You exist only because of your purpose, not just because. Not because you are a human being and you can exist to fulfill your plans and dreams. In our national awareness women exist to serve a purpose only. And the people who decide that purpose are the men.
Sexism and patriarchy in Poland is a massive topic that I don’t really care to get into now, as it’s not the point. It’s just a part of difficulty of dealing with the idea of not having children. If you decide your worth for yourself it’s not something that the general public agrees with, and they do not remain neutral about it, since it attacks their worldview. Even other women become involved in scrutinizing their childless sisters, because if they gave up on being childless, if they gained an ounce of respect and power because of motherhood, it becomes in their interest to preserve the status quo. The point is, you are extremely lucky if you find any support.
I am extremely lucky. I have found a partner who assured me completely that our life together is the ultimate dream, and children are only a nice addition. I know many women do not have this comfort, and most of them are faced with pressure from everywhere, that ‘a man needs to have a child’, ‘childless wife is to be replaced’, etc. It is hammered to our minds that you are appreciated as a partner only conditionally, and you need to submit to the expectation of bearing children or you will always be worth less than another woman who will have them. And people are really inventive when it comes to ways of bullying women into committing to this.
I have ultimately decided I want to have a child, precisely because I don’t have to. I am stupidly, unbelievably happy in my marriage. So is my husband. Our life and our future is the ultimate goal, that we cannot get enough of. Eternity is not enough. And the pro of having no children is that all the resources and all the time that we have left in this world we can spend just on each other. We will not be missing moments together due to our focus being elsewhere.
For a long time I also did not want to have children, because I felt very pressured to have them, and no decisions are good when rushed like this, or enforced. The expectations and pressure were enough to make me decide on the span of last few years to not get pregnant. I felt like if this decision isn’t 100% mine to be made, I’d rather not have it at all.
That being said I would absolutely love to have a child, and my husband is the only person I could imagine having them with. It’s the only person with whom I see all aspects of my psyche and identity flourishing. Both a wife and a partner in parenthood. I used to look at men as DNA donors, no-one I really met was in my eyes suitable to raise my child. And with him it’s different, I would absolutely love to see him as a father and I cannot imagine how this world can go on without him fathering our little warmongers.
Sometimes you encounter a person who is just so much above everyone and everything, the ultimate legendary figure, the archetype of all the things desirable. The man, the lover, the father, the carer, the king. My architect, my artist and my protector. I firmly believe women are responsible for choosing the best mate to procreate with. To choose the best man to reward for being up to all of the standards, and for being the best partner for ourselves. We should hold a far greater value to our companionship, our loyalty and our bodies. And to life creation itself. No-one else will think this through for us, we cannot waste it on the undeserving. Men can get angry at it how much they want, but the decision lays with women, and patriarchy was a mistake from the start.
Therefore, my confidence in this is absolute. My logic, my heart, my body, all the signs in the stars and all the saints and the damned are letting me know that this is right. I want this man to be a father. And I myself know I’m a mother. It’s so easy to decide when we’re both already the archetypes of the functions we want to serve.
But we are also rational people and DNA is not all. We have plenty of projects to bring to life in the future that will use our parenting resources. We want to educate and assist young people in general, we do not really care about the offspring idea, we aren’t dumb and narcissistic enough to think that only we can perpetuate our genes, and the world will collapse and something bad will happen if we won’t reproduce. If anyone thinks so: really, no-one cares. You share genes with all of us, and your children are still random, and it makes no difference in the world to have yet another person that looks vaguely like they’re related to you. And to be honest I am skeptical whether people this self-centered will raise good people anyways.
Another part of the ‘legacy’ aspect is your name and inheritance. Most people do not have anything really that valuable to leave to someone, and if they do, there are plenty of people and charities in need that this can be given to. Plus I do not believe in wealth hoarding. Are you lucky in life? Use it. You have just one shot. It’s noble and worthy to work towards bettering the future generations of your family, but should the hypothetical family be the reason to never do anything in life except work, never travelling, never tasting, sampling, experiencing, for the sake of muh legacy? Do we really have to assign such pathos to leaving someone few thousands bucks, an apartment, and a car? Is prolonging family ownership over material things worth starting a family for if it’s the main reason?
For many people it’s also a way to keep their wealth to themselves somehow after their death, which I don’t see the point of either. Isn’t it odd how much we speak of living in the moment, using your life, and spending the entire time and making the biggest life decision based on what will happen after we die?
And is your last name really meaning anything so much that you need to name someone else like that and inflict some toxic expectations of them because of it, when your name itself will survive probably few houndred years at best, and no-one will remember you after three generations anyways? And the ones to remember you or learn about you will never really know you or understand who you were anyways, they’ll just have a vague idea that you have existed and not pay you another thought? Should this really be the focus of our lives, lives so short and in the world so unstable and temporary?
I don’t think so.
Women somehow deal with living without their own names. We carry the name of our father, and after marriage we obtain the name of our husband. Our names are irrelevant, non-existent. We are supposed to work for creating our own identity under our fathers’ name only to give up all of that once the ownership over us is exchanged.
Legacy in context of wealth and names is a delusional goal.
I do understand when it’s the loneliness creeping in, making people afraid of being forgotten. But putting our comforts on the afterlife is not the way. All of us will be forgotten, sooner or later, and in most cases way sooner than we think. The great scientists and thinkers that we know of, and other historical figures, are just singular individuals from barely couple thousand years ago. And two thousand years is a very insignificant time in the history of the world. Do you have intimate knowledge of your great-great-grandparents? Do you think about them at all, do you know their names, their fears, their dreams, their lives? The forgetting takes way earlier than that. And the famous historical figures earned their fame.
There is just no point in investing in being memorized, if what you really want is to be noticed here and now.
None of that is a good reason to become a parent though. Not loneliness, not ego, not pressure, not social norms. There is an inherent parenting energy in some people, and there is abundance of love in their heart that wants to be given. There are values and knowledge to be shared, and companionship and humor to be gifted. There is natural sense of protection and vigilance to be utilized. There is curiosity instead of demand – to learn what kind of person our children will be, instead of planning to enforce them to meet our expectations. This makes a natural parent, who can and should choose according to their wishes and conscience whether they want to have children or not, regardless of the way.
Our system currently is simply not working. We are pressuring people into having more children because the social security and taxes need to be paid, but the system is designed for infinite growth, and you cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. That system’s existence will never be a good argument, if anything using it as such makes an excellent argument for the system to be abolished, because it’s impractical.
I feel very lucky to have made my decision. I am facing some hardships in this regard that I will probably write about another time, but nevertheless. I know I want it enough to go through the effort. But I don’t want it enough to go through extreme measures. I am glad I do not feel desperate to have it. It gives me a peace of mind that I don’t have to worry. Both best and worst case scenarios are really fantastic and ideally I’d like to have both, but I have only one life so I need to make a turn. Right now I’m turning the family way, but maybe it will lead precisely to where I’ve already been.