February 21, 2008

Less Fulfulling?

by Shelley
Regular Contributor to Purple Women & Friends

As a childfree woman who has been blessed with a fulfilling career, I have often been the subject of erroneous assumptions that I am choosing money and prestige over children. Anyone who knows me well enough to judge understands that my reasons for not having children are primarily spiritual and have nothing to do with my job. The whole “selfish” accusation is bored and tired, so I refuse to be bothered by the ignorance and close-mindedness of others.

However, I find it considerably more difficult to keep my cool when people take it one step further and imply that my childfree status somehow cheapens my accomplishments. I have nearly bitten a hole through my tongue as I’ve sat and listed to bitter co-workers imply that if I had kids like them and the playing field was level, I wouldn’t be more successful than anyone else.

What a pathetic concept. It’s just as bad as the runner who postures that he would’ve come in first place instead of second if his shoe hadn’t come untied.

Why on earth do some people think it’s okay to make their children convenient excuses for life’s disappointments?
And what does that do to the poor kids? I’m sure it can’t be good for the ol’ self esteem to hear Mom on the phone telling her pals that if it wasn’t for Junior here, that promotion would’ve been hers. It’s seriously sad.

I would never disparage any woman for taking a break from her career to focus on her children – it’s a decision I respect and can appreciate. However, I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for taking advantage of opportunities that arise in the meantime. The Corporate world is tough enough for women, and we only make it worse when we turn on each other.

Flickr photo by maxedaperture (cc)
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LauraS said...

I too feel sorry for those kids, and what do these women say to their colleagues who delayed parenthood, put their nose to the grindstone to get the Masters, the Ph.D, and as a result, became more marketable in the workplace?
My mom was a working mom, at a time when they were pretty rare breed. She made many tradeoffs and sacrifices in order to be successful in both roles.
She taught me to take responsibility for my decisions, that every choice had a consequence. And to choose wisely.

Melissa said...

I like the way you put it. You have made an educated and sensible decision based on how you feel. I think some women in the professional world have children because they think that is what society expects of them and it's not really what they want.

I'm making this argument based on my career as a nanny for parents who have very demanding, stressful, and full-time careers. I watched the children suffer desperately because mom couldn't handle the pressures of both.

I'm not saying that all women who employ nannys can't handle both children and work, but what I am saying is that I've been in this business for awhile and I've seen very neglected children from extremely wealthy and successful families.

This is a great topic. Well done.

LauraS said...

Thank you for being the nanny to these stressed out parents and neglected kids. They need your help. BTW, I never miss an episode of SuperNanny.


Jo(SuperNanny)is seriously smart about kids. I never realized how smart my mother was about kids until I began watching this show. I also like the show because it reminds me why I didn't have kids. These parents are hanging on by the skin of their teeth, some are on the verge of divorce.

They could have been me, had I chosen to have kids. For the grace of God go I.

decided said...

I also love that Jo actually doesn't have children of her own.

I don't like that women's achievements are belittled if they don't have children. Or when they do become pregnant, the role of motherhood is described as 'their most rewarding and important role' despite the fact that they may have been saving lives in war torn countries beforehand, or won awards in whatever field they work in.

gtimes2 said...

My husband and I have decided to be childless by choice for numerous reasons. I currently teach 2nd grade and as you can imagine, I hear lots of comments about not wanting to have children. I have had a co-worker to say she couldn't understand why I want to teach since I don't want children of my own. What an immature thought! Just b/c I don't want children does NOT mean I don't like children.

I find myself constantly having to fight battles with so many closed minded women. I even have to fight this same battle with my mother and some older female family members. They (family members) feel like I'm trying to be "better than everyone else" b/c I have chosen to advance my education and because I have chosen to be childless.

Before my husband and I got married we had a long discussion about having a family. As a result, we felt it was best for both of us to not have children. Sure, there are times we think about what things may have been like with children, but we don't dwell on it b/c there are soooo many other things we can focus on. Recently, my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Therefore, we spend as much time as possible with eachother b/c we have no idea when that time may come to an end.

I believe that being childfree by choice allows both of us to do what we "want" to do and not what we "have" to do. It really upsets some people we know b/c we can take trips at a moment's notice or we can purchase just about anything we want whenever we want. Please don't misunderstand or think I'm bragging. it's just that the people we have encountered throughout life usually have to put their children's needs first. Being childfree means that my husband and I don't have to worry about saving money to set up a college fund, buying clothes and school supplies, or planning kid friendly vacations/trips.

I am really glad I stumbled upon this site. :)