A conscious decision
no one will ever send me a Mother’s Day greeting card. I will never find the inheritance of my yellowish-brown eyes or my husband’s light green eyes on the little face of a newborn baby, nor will I sing a lullaby for anyone. My child will never smile at me, nor will I wait until my child graduates from college, or gets married, or dedicate a handwritten book title to me.
Infertility has been repeatedly mentioned in news reports, and it has become a familiar topic. But my situation is different: I chose this fate. I made a sober decision: not to have children.
I wrote this passage after being commissioned by the “Seven Sky” magazine in 1989, and later extended it to my first book “Beyond Motherhood: Choosing a Life Without Children”. I was 42 years old, had been married for 9 years, and had been engaged in psychoanalysis for 15 years. I was entering the final juncture: time is not for me, and I must make the hardest and most lonely choice in my life as soon as possible-I have waited until I give birth. The period was about to end before I made myself determined-I couldn’t make a sound when I wrote this sentence. When I saw this passage printed in typeface, which meant that my choice was firm and unequivocal, I burst into tears again.
Twenty-five years have passed, and I was 67 years old when I read these words again. I will still be moved by the undisguised power between the lines, as well as pain. I had hoped to write down the words one by one to relieve and cushion the pain. The blow power. But for the decision I made, there is still a feeling of pride and gratitude that comes with memory, because I have now realized that it is precisely because of this choice that I can have such a life.
This article describes the strong stigma that plagues women who deliberately choose not to have children-not only from their personal hearts, but also from external cultures. Therefore, I feel that this sincere and personal analysis must be published under a pen name. Results. I use this little trick to hide my true identity to avoid being recognized by patients, colleagues, and relatives and friends. Although this probability is very low, I really don’t want to be pointed out by them, just like me. Judge yourself like that without mercy. For women who are hesitant about whether to have children, shame is the most difficult emotion to overcome. This anxiety almost swallowed me. At that time, I was not ready to announce my wishes to the public.
Stand up and speak for them
confessional article surf like a stone, and I was not ready to meet the avalanche of reader feedback. Just because of my article, “Seven Sky” magazine received an unprecedented number of letters from readers. Almost no one has ever written about this topic, but it is obvious that women with similar ideas suddenly found out that someone finally stood up to speak for them. Of course, the magazine also forwarded to me several other letters from strangers, all insisting that I was deceiving people, or insane, or both. This argument is not for the faint-hearted, but I knew it at the time: I must write a book on this topic.
Among my patients and friends, one of the most entangled and most important questions for women who decide not to have children is: Will they regret this for life? What other topics do they and their friends who have children have in common? Do they feel that they are incomplete women? These problems clearly bother me. Therefore, I took a few years to expand that article into a book. Of the 50 interviews I finally completed, 5 interviewed women over 60 years old. They provide a unique insight. Each of them is satisfied with their life. They are not afraid of being old and having no future, they are very satisfied with their partners and themselves, and what is quite moving is that they are proud of their independent spirit.
If you decide not to be a mother, you will never be a mother. On such a fundamental issue, to make a sober decision that is entangled with one’s own past and social expectations, one must also consider femininity and life goals. This requires firm will. How does this important decision I have to make intuitively affect my destiny and self-perception? Now I am 67 years old. How will the aftermath of this decision affect my future?
Discussing this topic again after 25 years, I feel relieved, and I am happy to tell you that I have never hesitated at all: I choose the right answer to my life. During the five years of making the decision, I suffered severe anxiety, self-doubt, sadness, and extremely ambivalent hesitation about my future. But looking back, I realized that most of the time was actually spent re-examining and truly accepting the decision I made in my heart. I long to be born and nurture like others do, but I have to face the fact: I don’t want to. This means that I have to figure out: I will be very different from most women on fundamental issues. I have to face every feeling I have, no matter how painful it is. Only in this way can I grieve for the possibility that I have lost and personally dismissed; grieve for the road that I have no choice, this is good for my body and mind.
I am also very lucky to have a husband who supports me. He could have a different kind of family, but he felt it realistically: Because motherhood is far more tolerant and thorough than fatherhood, in the end, I can only choose whether to have children. He made it very clear that for him, spending this life with me is the top priority. This attitude is one of the many reasons I love him. Therefore, in the past 35 years of married life, the intellectual and emotional intimacy we have enjoyed is quite rare.
In the years that followed, I accepted the idea: I could become a better, happier or smarter woman than I thought, even if I was worried. What I need most is freedom-I can act when I want it; I can focus on the emotional relationship between me and my husband without distraction; I can devote myself to the dual careers of psychoanalysts and writers. I find that my initial intuitive judgment is correct; I don’t want to be caught between my own needs and the needs of others, especially those born and raised by me. I also don’t think this is selfish or “unfruitful wasteland”-predecessors used to describe women who are infertile. Thanks to the sober decision I made in the first half of my middle age, when a stranger asks the embarrassing question “how many children do you have” when the stranger asks the embarrassing question “how many children do you have” in the usual gossip, I can do it without self-defense. He smiled and replied: “No one. I’m not suitable for being a mother.” A
firm stand-“Resolutely no”.
The process of making a decision itself has had more of my personal and professional life than I had imagined. The impact also goes far beyond the question of whether to be a mother or not. That gave me a firm stand: I call it “resolutely no.”
”Resolutely no” means that you have to have an attitude of rejection and refuse to adopt the standard behavior that most people regard as the norm. “Resolutely no” also often means agreeing: agreeing to opinions that may not be universal but are in fact completely consistent with your own thoughts and feelings. Any decision made in this way is not an act of rebellion, but a clear self-awareness of willingness: stand firmly on your behalf.
The world is full of women who give birth to children, so how can a woman who chooses not to have children live in such a world? I gave up precious experience and kinship, so I can have another kind of experience I want more. Some women have made this decision like me. They are happy to be aunts or aunts, or special adult friends in the lives of the children of good friends. Unfortunately, I don’t have this opportunity, but this kind of role may be very suitable for me. But generally speaking, I am never at ease among young children. In my professional field, being a role model for young people and being a mentor and helpful friend is a way for me to get satisfaction. I especially like to do analytical therapy for young women to help them shape a life with self-awareness and self-expression ability. Although I didn’t have children, it couldn’t stop me from helping many women to make choices on maternity issues—both those who chose to have children and those who chose to give up, and it wouldn’t prevent me from fully understanding the feelings of mothers, which made me very happy. . Although it is separated by a floor, I love the children of the patient in my own way. I can make good suggestions for their parents and let them understand them better. This makes me feel very fulfilled.
I recently reread my teenage diary, and I was surprised to find: Actually, as early as 1963, I started thinking about not having children in this life. When I was 16 years old, I wrote: “I have decided not to live my own people like that-as if a woman’s only creativity is to have children.” I don’t remember myself writing this passage, but it’s true.
I have always thought that I and my mother are similar in many ways, but I published my decision in the book. Therefore, when the book “Beyond Motherhood” was published, I was worried that she would feel that I was negligent and denied. . But on the contrary, she was extremely happy. It turned out that she always wanted me to be a writer. This kind of expectation was even better than her desire to be a mother. She was very proud of it. In the past, I always felt that she suppressed me based on her own needs, but at that time I finally understood that she put in more effort in order to encourage me to think independently.
There is no who has everything
since I chose not to join fertility of the female population, has in the past quarter century, the overall situation of what happened? The number of this group has increased. At the time of writing this article, the proportion of women of childbearing age who actively choose not to have children in the world has risen by about 10%. This number is still on the rise. Use apology or self-defense again-at least in public. However, I will not assume that human nature has undergone tremendous changes, individual pain still exists, and they will still fall into a maternal dilemma. This is a fact that I discovered from patients who came to me for help. Most people can’t find anyone to talk to. The questions that have tortured me, and still have no answer to my memory, are also tormenting them. If you do not refuse to question in advance, or accept it unconsciously, you must go through this difficult questioning, find your own position, and understand why you chose this way. This matter is never easy.
Compared with the past, some things are not what they used to be—both good and bad. In August 2013, the US “Time” magazine planned for the first time in its history a cover story about proactively choosing not to have children. The headline is “No Children in This Life: Owning Everything Means No Children”. On the title picture, there is a fashionable, sexy, charming, smiling heterosexual couple. They are wearing swimsuits and lying on the beach, relaxed and unburdened. I am very happy to see that this issue has finally received attention. Back in 1996, a female editor of Time magazine who voluntarily chose not to have children interviewed me about the book “Beyond Motherhood.” But her immediate boss withdrew the interview because he obviously couldn’t accept my description of childless women as fruitful and feminine women. He believes that no woman can say that such a life is beautiful, and they should not think so. In my memory, this weekly magazine did not touch this phenomenon again until 2013.
Although I was very happy when I saw the report, the hint content still worries me. The seemingly optimistic label slogans like “have everything” and “no children” seem to imply: deny that you have lost a part of it. Can make the problem disappear completely, or the other way around: admitting that you have lost means that you will feel incomplete. The author asserts in a cheerful tone: “Having everything, but it doesn’t mean having a baby. These women are creating a new kind of female model.” The
problem is: no one in the world owns everything-whether it is a mother, not a mother Whether it’s a man-as long as it’s a human being, there are deficiencies. No matter now or in the future, the so-called perfect life does not exist, otherwise it is tantamount to letting go of a dangerous illusion that one can live a lifetime without regrets. No one lives without regrets. Every major choice has its pros and cons, whether people admit it or not, and whether people can recognize reality: no mother can have complete and life-long freedom, and freedom is indispensable to my happiness. I will never be able to appreciate the intimacy between mother and child, or the mother’s influence on children. Loss—including the possibility of losing the future—is an inevitable thing in life, and no one has everything.
I know a thoughtful mother who interrupted her legal career in order to raise two sons. After reading my book, she wrote the truth in a letter and sent it to me: “I often think of you—you Traveling in foreign countries, you pursue your career ambitions-in short, your life as an adult. The parent-child life in the suburbs is beautiful in many ways. There are some precious moments that are so wonderful that I can’t help but breathe. However, this is also an extremely limited way of being. A part of my heart yearns for your life, which is not surprising. ”
True self-acceptance and true liberation require a clear understanding of your own limitations. Rather than denying its existence pretentiously. Regardless of whether they have children or not, women can realize themselves. You don’t need to have everything, and you can definitely have a rich enough life. This is a fact and should be recognized. How lucky we are to live in such an era: we can choose a lifestyle that suits us after careful consideration. Even if we choose to go against the current, the world today will not look too swayed at us. Not taking the usual path will bring satisfaction and hindrance. What we can get and really need is nothing more than-to have enough experience and experience things that suit us. As for me, I only hope that the wish I made in 1989 will finally come true: my womb is always empty, but my life is full and complete.