Wanting Children While Single

You snuggle babies every chance you get, longing for the day when you might hold your own child. Or perhaps you don’t hold babies any more because the ache of wishing they were yours is just too much. That’s the kind of grief and longing we associate with women in relationships who want to have a child and can’t get pregnant. Yet this desire isn’t confined to women with a man in their lives whom they love.

I’ve always felt guilty for how much I sympathize with the barren women of the Bible. As far as I know, I could have children if I found the right guy to marry and it seems rude to compare myself with women who are physically unable to have children. It also seems out-of-order to long for children before meeting the man I’d want to be their father.

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I’m not alone, though. A woman I met through this blog while working on The INFJ Handbook shared her desire for children by asking why so many children are born into broken families while we, who would make good moms, are left barren. Since then, I’ve come across other women who feel the same way. If you’re committed to not having sex before marriage and/or not having children without a man in your life, then single women can know the pain of empty arms that long to hold a child.

Cultural Back-lash

Longing for children is unpopular in today’s society. We’ve become so obsessed with the fact that women are more than “baby producing machines” that the notion of being a mother has becomes synonymous with female oppression. Instead of seeing motherhood as a beautiful thing that many women desire, we’re told kids should take a back-seat to your career, your other desires, and your empowerment as a woman. And if having kids is actually one of your top life goals? well, clearly you’re still living in the pre-feminism dark ages.

Now, I know not everyone sees things like that, especially in the churches. There are plenty of people who will encourage you in motherhood if that’s what you want. But just look at the back-lash Olympian Kerry Walsh Jennings received when she told NBCC, “I feel like I was born to have babies.” Or when Adele said becoming a parent gave her “purpose.” Or the reaction to Natalie Portman’s comment that being a mother is “the most important role of my life.” Apparently, thinking that mothering your children is more fulfilling than your career horrifies some people. So much for giving women the freedom to do and be whatever they want.

Vilifying Motherhood

What’s even more disturbing to me is the rhetoric used by many women who choose to remain childless. If you don’t want to have children that’s your choice and people should respect that. But I also think that childless-by-choice women shouldn’t shame and vilify the notion of motherhood. Just because you don’t want something doesn’t make it disgusting.

An article titled “9 Brutally real reasons why millennials refuse to have kids” is a good example of what I’m talking about. While this article and many of the people they interviewed cite several understandable and balanced reasons for not having children, the language used to talk about having children is downright disturbing. Here are a few quotes:

  • “raising from a larval stage a human money suck.”
  • “violently blast forth from their uteri a living person.”
  • “Some women just aren’t into the idea of using their uteruses as a rental property, and they don’t want to be a food source for something that lives inside them.”
  • “I see pregnant women and my eye bulges and I feel grossed out by the whole thing. There’s like, a person inside them.”
  • “I can’t deal with the reality of a person bursting me open and then sucking on my tits.”

I haven’t any scientific evidence or thorough studies to back this up, but I’m willing to bet the amount of people seeing children as a grotesque parasite leeching off and clawing their way out of a host is connected with movements to legitimize abortion. While abortionists are increasingly willing to admit unborn children are, in fact, human, it’s much easier to justify killing them if you can get people to see babies as unwanted invaders. And even setting aside how this rhetoric changes how we see children, it’s still damaging how women see their own bodies. Was it really the feminist goal to have women looking with disgust at our ability to reproduce?

click to read article, "Wanting Children While Single" | marissabaker.wordpress.com
image credit: Valeria Zoncoll via StockSnap

It’s Okay To Want Kids

In the midst of all this, it’s easy to become discouraged or even feel shame for wanting children, especially if you’re single. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a mother. We were designed to have children, as most women’s bodies will remind them each month whether we want it or not. Rather than shaming women for wanting something they are uniquely qualified for, we as a culture and individuals should respect motherhood. And we should also respect the choice not to have kids (though we would ask those who are childless-by-choice to not treat babies like a disgusting alien parasite or call our bodies gross).

It’s also okay to grieve if you don’t have kids and want them, even if you’re single. Bethany Jenkins calls this “disenfranchised grief” in her article titled “Turning 40 While Single and Childless.” She quotes Melanie Notkin discussing the type of “grief you don’t feel allowed to mourn, because your loss isn’t clear or understood. But losses that others don’t recognize can be as powerful as the kind that are socially acceptable.”

To my dear friends who want kids, are still single, and don’t want to parent alone, I cry with you. To those who are married and trying to have kids but can’t, my heart breaks for you. To childless men who want to be fathers, I apologize for ignoring you in this post (I do know you exist). And to those who choose not to have children, please be kind to us even when you don’t understand.

 

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4 thoughts on “Wanting Children While Single

  • I admire your courage and insight. I’m not sure I can relate on wanting children but I do know plenty of women that dream of becoming a mother. My viewpoint was shaped very early on and perhaps my perception on the sacrifices of motherhood. My grandmother had 13 children and hearing the stories of my mother and aunts on how bad they felt for their mother not having the luxury of catering to each child emotionally was the impression that was made. My mother raised my sister and I on her own and my impression was that motherhood is stressful. My sister has 4 children and I admire her dedication and wanting to have that many children; I believe any child that is wanted, is blessed and not that the child that isn’t wanted or wasn’t planned for is cursed; but there’s a different energy around the intention of having children. It could be to fit into society, wanted someone to bond with, having someone likely in your old age to take care of you and forever having a link to the someone that co-created the child together.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I don’t really leave comments, but I this post hit a couple things for me.

    I am not a millenial. Born in the 80s. At one point in my life I was married, and felt that at some point because of this I was supposed to have kids. THANKFULLY that never happened as this marriage was definitely something not meant to be for a myriad of reasons, and afterwards I did not want children AT ALL and would have fell in line with the list you provided above from the “millenials” state of mind.

    Now, clearly, I was never wanting this to ever change…until I met someone who some how completely broke that dam. He and I no longer speak sadly…it wasn’t until we stopped talking and I realized how much I loved him and even stated I’d have his children with no regret and a stoic stance that the whole concept of having children and what love itself meant to me altered everything in my “Inner World” mind set.

    I will state I am an INFJ, wholeheartedly. A frighteningly aware one, at best. SO, this was a major “catastrophic” event for many of my personal views to “know” it was true.

    There was a lot leading up to our parting and realizations that I saw later, or was in denial for, but ever since I’ve had this terrible pining for my own children, but not wanting to buckle down and accept something I “settle” for in a man just to fill that need.

    I’ve many friends who have kids, and there are many stories I hear from them about trashy people with children. This only adds to my disdain, but my values and judgement trump filling voids. It doesn’t make it any easier, and yes, I should not “judge” so harshly – but having never thought I’d ever be in this pridicament it’s an interesting yet sordid concept I’ve had to deal with for the past year.

    Yes, this has been very recent. MY feelings for the individual who incited them still are around…he turned out to have a lot of fear from things he has not faced yet in his early life that I made note of before we stopped speaking. “Mother issues” on his end, and one of the harder things for most men to pull themselves out of.

    Being someone who has had to adapt and cope by “grabbing the bull by the horns” in my own life, I am very quick Intuitively to see the signs in my older years- though my denial with feelings can sometimes blind the obvious when my Unconscious already knows the truth.

    I guess for me, knowing I’m not getting any younger and reminded on a constant how I want my own children now, is what made this post relevent. I’m not that old either, 33, but that is older by many standards. Even had a Gyno tell me it was getting up there. THE mere suggestion of getting knocked up via artificial insemination completely disturbs my views and internal processes, and I’ve had one gyno and a friend mention that. I personally would not want to raise my child without a father figure, no matter how much I feel I want children. It’s not because of some selfish need either (though in honesty, the need to want to have a viable figure and have that bond of love is adamant and can be perceived as selfish I’m sure), more the personal concept of loving parents raising and protecting their “brood”. But my views are archaic in many ways compared to “today’s” standards anyway.

    I feel for those who cannot have them, and those who are in similar situations. No matter the gender. This annoying concept by some to make it seem men don’t “feel” this way in some circles boggles me. Apparently being human and wanting an instinctual life process is completely alien if it cannot be delegated by the current societal order hell bent on supression of personality not set by its sway.

    Sometimes I like to say he ruined me for waking up my “maternal instincts”…

    But in truth it’s more he made me grow up. And I concede to that. It was rudimentary mentality on the other side…something I would have never accepted until this stage of life happened.

    The mentality of those attempting to push back and lower the standards of people wanting children in the earlier portion of your post only reminds me of my views and lack of faith in humanity at this point. Society and the cattle that follow have lost so much of themselves; I didn’t even realize that apparently it’s looked down upon to want to devote your time and attention to being a good mother from what was stated.

    That is a hard pill to swallow, especially from someone who was on one side of the fence, vehemently, and now groveling on the other.

    Anyway, long post is long…but I’ve never been good at making anything short or make sense. Hopefully, on that, it was not too confusing.

    Blame the personality type, I suppose. Ha.

    Thanks for this post, and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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