Some days, I really hate being a woman.
I hate all the "June Cleaver" societal expectations that constantly bombard me. I hate that I have to simultaneously be kind and gentle and ravishingly beautiful because, to be quite honest, I'm none of those things. I hate that being a woman is so inextricably intertwined with being a wife and mother.
Why? The answer is simple.
I hate babies.
Ok, maybe "hate" is a bit of a strong word. But I certainly don't like them. Very much.
"What brings about this strange and strong assertion?" you may ask. Well, I'll tell you.
I don't know if you have noticed, but the whole world seems to have gone baby crazy. The world glorifies large families (just turn on TLC for a couple hours or put a baby in the middle of a group of post-menopausal women to see what I mean), and people who don't like children (like me) are considered "screwed up" by societal standards. Somehow, we're just not right.
Don't get me wrong, I've gone through the whole "I want a baby" stage. I was also five, had no idea what it meant to make let alone raise a child, and I was seeking "unconditional love." Somehow, I was blissfully unaware that I already had this from my own parents and that having children in no way guaranteed that your offspring would actually like you.
What can I say? I was five and ignorant, just as five-year-olds should be regarding such things. This was the time I also said that I wanted to live next door to my parents forever. Let's just say I've grow out of both of those phases.
My love affair with babies ended when I was nine years old and my nephew peed on me. If that isn't enough to disillusion a starry-eyed adolescent, I don't know what is.
At about the age of 13 I decided that I wasn't interested in having children. None of my older female family members supported me. In dulcet tones they would impart their "wisdom" upon me with phrases like, "It's different when they're yours," "Just give it a few years, you'll change your mind," and my personal favorite, "I thought the same thing, once, but just look at me now!" And when I did take a good, hard look at those women, I was horrified. They were once strong, independent women with educational and career goals, but no more. They had to put their dreams on hold to raise their children, and somehow they forgot who they were in the process.
Much like my female family members, I have a vision for my life. I want to get a PhD. I want to travel. I would like to live in Dublin for a few years. The vision that I have of my life doesn't suddenly stop when I turn 25, 30, 35 just so I can have kids. I can't just pack up a family of four on a whim. Let's face it, kids get in the way.
Call me selfish if you like, it's probably true. But that's the beauty of being a woman in 2011. I get to choose. I may be expected to have kids, but in the end, it's my decision. Despite my mother-in-law saying she'll only "give" me five years to produce a grandchild, she doesn't get to choose. I do.
And that is why I really love being a woman.