When I think about what I want my future to look like, I envision a lot of different things: a small apartment in a big city, a husband, and lots and lots of dogs. I see myself walking down a busy street with black pumps and a Starbucks cup with some catchy indie song playing in the background. But mostly, I want to be successful on my own terms—I want to get my degree, get an internship and be a kick-ass editor at some hip publishing house.
I’ve always known I wasn’t one of those girls who would be content just staying home and being a mother, and I hated that people expected that of me as a woman. Nothing sounds worse to me than a house in the suburbs, a minivan and mom jeans. Not that being a mother necessarily means becoming a Real Housewife of Suburbia, but it does mean making sacrifices I don’t think I want to make.
It’s not even that I don’t like kids. I don’t mind them for the most part…from a distance. I just hate that my body is biologically built to be a vessel and that I am somehow obligated to procreate because of my ability to do so. People look at me expectantly when I tell them my plans for the future as if I have forgotten some vital stepping-stone on my path to successful womanhood.
I just never developed that maternal instinct, that second-natured obsession with onesies and baby booties. I’m that girl that un-friends you on Facebook the minute you start posting weekly pregnancy updates. As a woman, everyone just expects you to want the white picket fence: marry the boy-next-door from high school, move to a good school district and have a baby girl named Emily or Sarah. It’s become so ingrained in society’s definition of womanhood that saying you’re not sure if you want kids becomes blasphemous.
I want to have the luxury to just pack up my apartment and move half way across the world. I want to travel on weekends, sleep in on Sundays, and work long hours during the busy season without feeling guilty for missing my son’s bedtime for the third time this week.
I want to wear sexy lingerie around my house for no real reason. I want to eat late dinners at fancy restaurants. I want to see the ballet and opera and fashion week. I want to have friends in Paris and family in Amsterdam and a cabin in the mountains. The lifestyle that I dream of just isn’t compatible with motherhood.
I’m not saying that this won’t all change someday. Who knows? Maybe I’ll wake up when I’m 32 and want nothing more than to settle down in a cozy neighborhood with a golden retriever. Maybe I’ll name my son after my father and take up scrapbooking and I won’t even think about the life I thought I wanted. But I have to at least try, don’t I?
I dream of my future career more than I dream of my future children. This doesn’t make me cold or reckless or less of a woman. I am not obligated by some biological contract to push out babies and shop at The Gap. I don’t want to look back on my life and regret not doing the things I dreamed of as a little girl because I got busy with PTA meetings and bake sales and neighborhood picnics. I want to be able to look back and say I did everything I ever wanted and nothing that I didn’t.