By Jacque Reid, Editor In Chief
I dream of the day when a celebrity woman says she doesn’t or may not want to have children, and that declaration doesn’t make headlines. But that day is long off, based on the reaction this week to that admission from actress Cameron Diaz. In an interview with Esquire magazine, Cameron said, “It’s so much more work to have children. To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for — I didn’t take that on. That did make things easier for me. A baby — that’s all day, every day for 18 years. Not having a baby might really make things easier, but that doesn’t make it an easy decision.”
And with that, her words caused a collective gasp around the word. Even parents, who could not disagree with her comments, were a bit shocked that a woman would say publicly that she doesn’t want to be a mother. I think it’s because many women don’t feel they have a choice. Society, our parents, family, friends and religious leaders say women are supposed to get married and have children, as if it just the natural order of things… like the sun coming up in the morning. And no matter your level of career success, without those children it’s never quite good enough. Even for us.
Therefore, too many women enter into this long term relationship with children, without grasping the reality of how difficult it is going to be… especially if you are single, have limited finances, or a lack of family support. Financial issues, trouble breastfeeding, feeling like you are losing control of your life, sleep deprivation are all triggers for stress related ailments such as postpartum depression. When a mother is under that kind of stress, it is the children who end up paying the price. Their level of suffering depends on the mother’s ability to cope. I am not saying motherhood can’t be rewarding, but just that it might not be for everyone.
I write about this often because I get it. I used to be that girl who desperately wanted to have children, even if it didn’t really make sense in my life. I just felt like somehow that was on my list of things to accomplish, so I had to do it. I even went as far as asking a male friend if he wanted to have a baby together. But he didn’t want to do it without getting married.
But when I look at my life now, I am actually grateful that he said no and that I am not a mother. Cameron is right, it is a lot of work. When I hear my friends and co-workers talk about their challenging parenting experiences, I honestly can’t imagine how I would fit children into my life. They say that having children will shift your priorities and you will make room for them. But honestly, I feel like my life is hard enough without adding the responsibility of raising another human being all day, everyday for 18 years. It is a truth many women are afraid to admit, even to themselves.
So I am encouraged by Cameron and other celebrity women, such as Oprah and Zoey Deshanel, saying out loud that motherhood is not for them.
It doesn’t mean that women without children don’t worry about being taken care of when we get older or leaving a legacy, but those concerns are not enough to push us into a life choice that isn’t right for us. I think Cameron summed it up best in her comments to Esquire.
“I like protecting people, but I was never drawn to being a mother. I have it much easier than any of them. That’s just what it is. Doesn’t mean life isn’t sometimes hard. I’m just what I am. I work on what I am. Right now, I think, things are good for me. I’ve done a lot. And I don’t care anymore.”