Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Stop Asking Me if I’m A Mother

Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers! And people who are acting mothers! And people who have a deep attachment to their pets!

In spite of the title of this post, I don’t mind when people ask if I’m a mother. It’s the follow up questions after that that usually piss me off.

“Are you a mother?”


“Well, why not? Don’t you want kids? How old are you? Shouldn’t you be a mother by now?”

It takes all of my self-control not to snap when this happens. Full disclosure, I have snapped on a few people, but mostly I keep my angry responses to myself.

But to the point of I want to snap:

  1. Why the fuck is it your business why I don’t have children?
  2. I could have fertility issues and the assumptions could be breaking my heart.
  3. If we were close enough, you’d already know the answer to that question, and Mother’s Day is not the appropriate time to ask.
  4. I don’t want kids, why is that up for judgement?

When I calmly (or not-so-calmly) explain why I have no desire to be a mother, I get looks of either confusion, judgement, or pity.

The confusion confuses me. Do some people really know no women except me who are willing to stand up say, “at this point in my life, I have no desire to be a mother.”?

The judgement pisses me off because I am horrified to think of that person doing the same thing to a woman who’s only child was murdered. Or who has had multiple miscarriages. Or who is infertile. Or who also just doesn’t want kids but is emotionally affected by the judgement of strangers.

And the pity saddens me. There is so much is this world to feel badly about: climate change, poverty, childhood obesity, refugee safety, people constantly doing harm to the world in their god’s name. Being sad for me just seems like a waste of time and energy.

Knowing me, I will likely wake up one day and decide I must have children. As it stands right now, if I had a 2 bedroom apartment, I’d be filling out an application to be a foster mom. But raising a child from start to finish it outside of what I want right now.

I’ll just be happy with my own mom. And my grandmother. And my mother-in-law. And my godmother. And all the other women in my life who are like second mothers to me.

So feel free to ask me if I’m a mother, just keep the follow up questions to yourself. Thanks!

2 responses

  1. I also don’t like it when people make assumptions about women wanting children as if its the 1800’s instead of 2016. Back then women had no choice but to get married (because it was arranged by their families when they were teenagers/early adulthood) and have kids (because it’s not like you could have a career as an option). If a woman chose to do neither she would need to be wealthy in order to survive because she might face being disowned by her family, or if she were married and didn’t want kids, her husband would drop her like a hot potato because of her refusal to give him an heir. That was back then but even in present day women who decide not to have kids are treated as though something is wrong with them. These days we have a choice and if our choice is to have zero kids or five, that’s our choice and no one should criticise us for it. I want to have kids in the future and I have a friend who doesn’t. I have another friend who didn’t want kids initially but ended up with a surprise baby that she loves more than anything else in the world. She still doesn’t want another but relatives and strangers constantly tell her that her son needs a sibling, forget about her needs and what’s best for her family! We shouldn’t be judged for making decisions about our body. People try to change my friend, the one without kids, mind by describing the perks of parenting. If she wanted to know, she would ask. Why do you feel compelled to get her to change her mind? Why does it matter to you so much? When a woman says doesn’t want kids because she doesn’t like them, doesn’t think she’ll be a good mother, or just likes her life the way it is, people don’t see those reasons as valid. You’re a woman so you should want to be a mother, plain and simple! Because what else are we good for these days other than to procreate???

    May 9, 2016 at 11:23

    • Exactly! I have a co-worker who told me I’m the first woman she ever heard say she didn’t want kids. I found it odd the way she said it, but didn’t dig into why. Later, she brought it up again to tell me that she wasn’t sure she wanted to be a mother, but that she didn’t think it was an option. Because of her family and her boyfriend, she just never considered that she could live her life and NOT be a mother. I’m still not sure how I feel about opening up that can of worms for her. But I’m glad I spoke up about how I feel, if only to educate the world that there are more options for living your life. I may wake up tomorrow and want children. And that’s okay too. I wish all the options were okay, you know?

      May 9, 2016 at 17:12