February 28, 2006

What Do I Know Since I'm Not A Mom?

There was a woman who used to attend my church. She and her husband had six children. She'd brag they were like the Brady Bunch because she had three girls and three boys. Their kids were mischevious hooligans. I was co-leader of a youth group that met after church service, and I hated to see her kids coming. It was near impossible to keep order when they were in attendance. Her youngest was often placed in the nursery during Sunday service because the child was too antsy to keep still. One Sunday, it was my turn to man the nursery, and I babysat the kid. When service was over, her mother came to collect her. I don't remember the exact gist of the brief conversation, but I do know it was something about some issue she had with her kids. Before she walked away with her child, she abruptly said, "Oh, wait. You don't know. You don't have any kids."

I didn't like her tone or the attitude behind that statement. It was not the first time. The comment was not always verbalized. Sometimes it came in the form of rolled eyes, a slight sneer, raised eyebrows, or the "what kind of alien are you?" look. I seldom get that from men, but some childed women are quick to dismiss any possibility that women who don't have children know much of anything.

There is the erroneous idea that parenthood automatically grants wisdom to people. Society gives the impression that parenthood will make someone "grow up", but can we honestly say we know any pre-teens and teenagers who were magically endowed with knowledge to function as full-fledged adults when they became pregnant or got someone pregnant? Can we say that all of the adults we know who are parents are mature? Of course not.


Anonymous said...

Truth talking here.

NikkiJ said...

Most honest parents will tell you that they don't have a clue what to do when the kids arrive. And, if they are really honest, they'll also say that, as a parent they have very little influence in the end in how their kids turn out, and that you can only do your best and hope and pray for the best. School, peer pressure, friends, all these soon have far more sway in over a childs life than mere parents, and both they and the kids know it. Doesn't seem to matter whether you're a "good" parent or a "bad" one. Some kids are really well behaved, but some are simply horrible - rude and obnoxius. And I actually don't blame the parents, they have probably done their best. That is stress and worry that I can do well without. The thinking that one should have children to look after one in their old age often levelled at childfree women, is groundless as well as very selfish - more often than not, if they don't have problems of their own, where is the guarantee that the kids are going to take care of their elderly parents?

Anonymous said...

Found this while searching for something else...

It doesn't get better even if you have kids. I have one child under 3, and I get "yeah, but you only have the one". And now that I'm pregnant again, I know I'll get "Yeah, but you're not even 30 yet". Or "So when are you going to work again"?

I think we as women need to stop this irrational back and forth hatred thing we do to each other. Like when another woman walks in a room, and other women automatically sneer at her. It's so animal, and not human.

Back to the subject, having children doesn't make me a "madonna" or some how "better" than a childless woman -- and vice versa. We're all called for different tasks. I've known forever I wanted children. Some women, like my sister, have never had that feeling. And that's ok. We have to accept each other's choices, and be grateful that in this age we have choices!