Yes, this post is far more personal than most of my other posts, which are reviews or commentary of topics I’m passionate about. But as a woman who consciously haven’t had children, I’m no longer going to lie and say that ‘I can’t have kids’.
(Although it’s true … I can’t have kids! But not for physical or health reasons. I can’t have them for social and psychological reasons).
Melbourne University has recently conducted a study about the perceptions around a messy house. This idea that women must be the domestic gatekeepers, unofficial managers of the mental load, and unpaid servant of the family unit or suffer harsh judgement has, in fact, just been scientifically proven.
There has been a gender gap in housework after a woman has her first child. Survey after survey tells us things have remained largely status since the 1970s, despite gains for women in education and the workforce. But the prescription has always been to relax and stop worry about the housework.
Yet – this recent study has confirmed that there is still the attitude that a messy house reflects on the woman … and people are going to see that woman as less human!
“And this is why it’s chewing up all those intellectual calories in the back of women’s heads. Women believe that living in a messy house makes them a worse person,” says Associate Professor Ruppanner.
Hence, I didn’t want to put myself under more pressure – I’m doing the housework for two now, and I didn’t want to also be picking up after children.
This reason is somewhat related to the first, because it’s again about perception. I can understand why women want to be seen to have it altogether – their job, their housework, and that they are involved with their children. They want their children to have all the experiences and opportunities that they can. But it’s becoming a competitive sport!
Does it make you a bad mother, if you’re not doing everything for your kids, as well as having a house that could be photographed, and an Instagram account of amazing happy photos?!?
Professors Elisabeth Duursma and Jacqueline Barnes from the University of Wollongong are both of the view that “ …children have become, in a strangely Victorian way, perceived as the property of parents and their achievements are seen as part of the identity of parents.
“The child has now become a reflection of the parent. All this tutoring and comparing your child to other children is very unhealthy.”
This is certainly not what I want for my life.
Nobody said we’re all supposed to be the best at everything. That’s a ridiculous standard to set for yourself. You will fail. Period.
Why don’t we lift each other up? Why don’t we encourage each other instead of interpreting someone’s success as an attack?
What’s most interesting about this female competition is that some of it is completely imaginary. Maybe even most of it. It’s in our heads. Women see what other women do and turn it into an attack on their own performance. We shouldn’t. It isn’t.
I propose that we all do our part to stop the madness.
I am not in competition with you. I am going to assume that you do not live your life in competition with me. My focus is on me and my family. I can’t even imagine how much energy it would take to be in constant fear that you’ll do something amazing that I haven’t done. You will. And I don’t have any energy to spare.
I choose to celebrate with you. I choose to be your biggest cheerleader because I want you to do well. I am going to be inspired by you.
Hence, I haven’t had children.