When 'I Wish I Had a Child' Goes Political
Long-time readers of this blog know that The NotMom team has worked to stay clear of divisive political issues, even though women's reproductive health, and related choices, is the ultimate powder-keg. We felt that women without children -- by choice or by chance -- fall across the full political spectrum.
Perhaps that was a mistake. It's something we're thinking deeply about.
Now that you're aware of that, I want to share a recent discussion I had with "Jessica", a longtime friend who is decidedly childfree by choice. Over the years, she and I have talked about how our decisions about motherhood have affected our lives. It's a true friendship, and we can be honest with feelings that come from opposite places.
Jessica and I are both in our 60's [gasp], but she's four years older than me. That means that she was 18, 19, 20 during the height of the peace-and-love 1960's and Vietnam War protests when I was still in middle school. Even so, we are politically in sync.
Our friendship is such that I had no hesitation asking her opinion on a very...um, personal topic.
For each of us, America feels that it's traveling backwards faster than it ever advanced. As a black woman in 2018, I never dreamed I would see my government act so unabashedly against people of color, women, immigrants or non-Christians in my lifetime. And so, I asked my childfree friend:
"I know that you have marched, and contributed, and volunteered, to achieve and hold onto rights and policies you believe in. These days, as so many of those things are unraveled and erased,, I just wondered, have you ever wished that you had a child to carry on your fight when you're gone?"
I gotta tell ya, even though I thought she'd think 'Yes', I didn't think she'd say it. But, she did.
That led to a lengthy, energetic discussion. I revealed that although I had once dreamed of having kids, there are times during the current US Administration when I wish I had tried harder. Jessica revealed her own visions of the kick-ass equal-opportunity feminist (male or female) that she would have produced.
Eventually we reached a place of realism and listed the reasons why our backwards wishing made no sense. Who knows which newborn grows up to be a drug addict, or suicidal, or mentally unstable? And it certainly isn't uncommon for adult children to resist their parents' political views (think Elizabeth Hasselbeck).
Writing this post, I’m reminded how lucky I am to have so many girlfriends who can talk about their childfree choice without losing their sh-- because I would have chosen the Mom path back in the day.
I decided to share this conversation because it keeps replaying in my mind. This blog has shown me that there are few emotional thoughts that aren't shared by someone else, somewhere.