Yesterday, I was in my favorite store buying myself a non-Mother’s Day present (see ring to left) when
a man and his daughter walked up to the case I was browsing and peered in at the pretty, sparkly silver and gemstone rings and necklaces.
“See anything special you really think she’ll like?” he asked her.
She made a noncommittal noise, and he told her it was fine, to keep in mind what she’d seen there while they visited other stores in case she decided she wanted to come back.
There’s something sweet about a parent and child out shopping for the other parent. Even sweeter was that the father obviously has good taste, because he’d brought his daughter to one of the coolest stores in my town. His wife will probably love whatever she gets.
Anyway – Mother’s Day is obviously not a special day for all women (unless, like me, they’re using it as an excuse to buy themselves a present…the way women who don’t get married will buy diamond rings for their right fingers as a “Yay to being single! Woo!” celebration). For many who have chosen to not have kids, Mother’s Day can be awkward. Store clerks and people on sidewalks assume Female=Mother and automatically wish all of them a happy Mother’s Day.
For some others, it’s undoubtedly a nagging reminder that there’s someone in their life, a romantic partner, maybe, they’ll soon have to tell, “I don’t want kids.”
Today, chances are a certain number of people have recently been told by someone that that someone doesn’t plan to have kids, and a percentage of those people who have received the news are secretly hoping Mother’s Day – the commercials, the celebration, the idealism of parenthood – will change their minds.
This post is for the dreamers.
The following is an excerpt from What Every Woman Wishes Modern Men Knew About Women. While the excerpt’s focus is on women who don’t want children (see book title as explanation), the advice applies just as well when the roles are reversed.
I’ve found, in my experience as a woman who doesn’t want children, that there are quite a few men who actually do want them. There are also quite a few men who haven’t quite managed to accept the idea that a woman could possibly not want children for real.
What you must understand, and prepare yourself for, as a modern man is the modern woman who has given a lot of thought to children because she doesn’t consider motherhood a foregone conclusion, and who has decided that she doesn’t want children under any circumstances.
Yeah, well, they say that, but—
No. No “but.”
If she tells you she doesn’t want children…
1. Do not make the mistake of assuming that because we’re women we’ll eventually want children. We aren’t kangaroos—this internal pouch isn’t one we all feel instinctively compelled to fill.
2. If a woman tells you she doesn’t want children, pretend she’s actually telling you she doesn’t want children. Don’t translate it in your head as, “I’m saying I don’t want them now, but I’m sure I’ll change my mind later.” She has no reason to lie to you, and if she’s told you she doesn’t want children, she’s already given it enough thought to make that declaration. So, assume she means it.
[2a.] If she tells you in the first few days of dating that she doesn’t want children, but says when you’re in the heavy-loving, sex-every-day, googly eyes, “I miss you and it’s only been five minutes!” phase that she might have changed her mind, take it with a grain of salt. Everyone goes a little nuts in the infatuation stage of a relationship, and it’s very possible, when things settle down and she’s tired of the way you let your socks hang off your feet and you hate the way her teeth hit the fork, that the things she once thought she’d do for love will have settled down, too. She may love you just as much as she always did, maybe even more than she did in the beginning, but the reality of what it means to have a baby will likely have returned. In short, don’t get your hopes up. (Note: She just might have changed her mind and decided she wants children, but do yourself a favor and don’t count on it. Believe it when you see it.)
3. If she tells you she doesn’t want children, she isn’t telling you she doesn’t love you enough to have your children. It isn’t a personal attack on you, your genes, your sperm, your penis, your manhood, your testicles, your family name, your family, or what she thinks of your ability as a future father. It has nothing to do with anything but the fact that she doesn’t want to be a mother. She doesn’t want the job, she doesn’t want the lifestyle. If this is difficult to understand, just imagine someone offering you a job no one could possibly pay you enough to do, and that the job is one that will be part of your every waking moment for the rest of your life.
[3a.] Caveat: It may, in some cases, be true that she’s telling you she doesn’t love you enough to have your children. (Marriage may not be irreversible, but children are—if we’re smart, we’ll only have a baby with someone we can imagine having in our lives for as long as that child is breathing.) Either way, she isn’t having kids with you, so the outcome is the same. Don’t be too hurt by it. The love we find with people is rarely the kind that should produce children, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful and rewarding while it lasts.