When I had children, it was not an accident. I wanted them. I’ve always wanted them. Two people would not exist were it not for my selfish, hard-to-justify yearning for them. So, world, what are you going to do about this?
The fact that I made the decision to reproduce and did not merely have little people thrust upon me is something of which I’m often reminded, usually by people who don’t like any of the following things to be suggested:
- mothers should not face discrimination in the workplace
- public spaces ought to be more child-friendly
- parenting is hard work
But you CHOSE to have children, they cry. Yes, I did. But is that a reason not to question our treatment of parents and their offspring? Does choosing a particular path in life mean one cannot question the conditions that pertain to it? Is discrimination against mothers justified on the basis that they could have rejected parenthood entirely? And is antipathy towards the young entirely reasonable since it’s down to those who brought them into existence to protect them from it?
Choosing to have children is not the same as choosing to be what others think a mummy should be. I didn’t choose to bend over backwards to perpetuate labour divisions still based on the idea that women remain in the home. I didn’t choose to feel guilty for earning money and/or for not earning enough. I didn’t choose to have rude, obnoxious people ruin my day by lecturing me on how my hypothetically rude, obnoxious children shouldn’t be allowed to ruin their hypothetical meal / cinema trip / train ride. I didn’t choose any of this nor should I have to. But given that this is the way things are, I choose to answer back.
So, “you chose it” people, you may have chosen not to have children yourself. Fine. In an over-populated, resource-starved world, this makes you morally superior to me, in the same way that I’m morally superior to anyone who has more than two children (and not just poorer / more tired / less fertile / simply in a position of not yet having got round to having any more). Hey, I’m sorry I’m not as good as you. But that’s as far as it goes.
And if my “obnoxious” children “ruin” your precious evening out? If I don’t pull my weight at work due to my other responsibilities? If I complain about motherhood itself and not the surrounding arbitrary, discriminatory conditions? Then I’ll apologise. But I’m sure as hell not apologising for the simple fact that I’m a mum. That’s my choice and I’m sticking to it.