An Open Letter to the Teacher Who Told Me That “Women Want Children”
Screw you, Mrs. Jones,
I know that’s not a ‘proper’ salutation, especially since it’s been nine years since we’ve spoken. But I feel better now that we’ve gotten that out of the way first. Really, I just wanted to say “eff you”, but I’ll elaborate. After all, you spent an entire year in high school trying to improve my English skills.
So here they are.
Hope you’re proud.
You once told me that someday I would want children.
Well, you actually said, “your maternal instincts will kick in when you’re older and you’ll change your mind about that” and “women want children” in regards to my very loud and very opinionated stance on not wanting kids.
“Women want children.” As if it were a law of nature.
Now, I’m sure lots of people have said some variation of this. Sadly, we still live in a sexist, ageist society. We live in a society where women are still expected to work full time and make dinner. We live in a society where women are expected to not only work full time and make dinner, but also raise the children. Hell, we live in a society where women are expected to know exactly how many kids they want and their names when they’re still just kids themselves. So yeah. I’m sure you weren’t the first or only person to tell me that I’ll want kids eventually. But you’re the only person whose words truly stuck with me regarding that subject.
I don’t know why.
But they stuck.
As I got older, I waited for it to happen. I waited for my maternal instincts to start up because I’m a woman, and “women want children”. I waited for those instincts to appear and coax me towards the holy land of motherhood. I waited for them to tell me, “You want three kids. Preferably two boys and a girl, named Christopher, Liam, and Susie.”
I waited, and waited, and waited. But they never spoke up.
I got older.
My friends started having kids.
My friends are still having kids.
And I started to question if something was wrong. Why weren’t my maternal instincts kicking in too? Was I immature? Was I not feminine enough? Not woman enough? Was I broken? Was something wrong with me?
I kept waiting.
They never kicked in.
I mean — shoot. I can’t even keep those cute little succulents alive. You know the ones. You can get them at the supermarket for less than three dollars. Do you have any idea how low maintenance those are? They die. Every time. The extent of my maternal instincts goes to feeding my cat and there’s nothing left after that.
Maybe yours kicked in for you — I mean, I’m assuming they did. You were never shy about the fact that you had three kids: two boys and a girl, named Christopher, Liam, and Susie.
Maybe one day you woke up and your maternal instincts duped you into thinking newborns are cute and “wouldn’t yellow be a cheery color for a nursery”.
Maybe when you looked at babies you thought “how precious, can I hold her” instead of “please don’t ask me to hold her”.
And that’s okay. I’m glad for you. But don’t assume it’s going to be the same for me. Don’t put that pressure, that expectation, on me. Or anyone. Because your words can stick with people for years. Nine years, to be exact.
I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I don’t want kids and that’s okay.
My point is, Mrs. Jones, that it’s okay to want kids. It’s okay to not want kids. But it sure as hell isn’t okay to press your expectations into people. Maternal instincts do not measure how much of a WOMAN someone is. A woman is a woman. Simple.
There are women who biologically can’t have children. There are women who suffer from infertility. There are trans women. There are women who love women. There are women who adopt. There are women who grew up wanting to be mothers. There are women who planned every second of it. There are women who didn’t. And there are some women who just don’t want children.
We are all women, maternal instincts or not, children or not.
Mrs. Jones, you taught me a lot more than English. You were right about two things: words have power and summaries are important.
So, in summary, screw you.
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