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That Ship Has Sailed!

I remember a time when I used to get somewhat annoyed when people asked me, “Do you have children?”  The question is not anything like the unforbidden rule of asking a woman her age.  Heck, I never hesitate when answering THAT particular question, because I often love the surprise (and sometimes debate, lol) on the person’s face when I tell them that I am in my late 40’s (and still fine)!  I started to dig a bit deeper and ask myself, “Why am I annoyed at such a simple question?”  I can admit today that I felt judged! Yeah, maybe sometimes it was all in my head.  There were other times when the judgement and shade thrown my way was too real.  I mean, show me a 40+ year old Black woman who does not have at least one kid, right?  Well, I had not one but none!  I realize now that I created my own mental pressure cooker of measuring myself up against women who appeared to be able to do it all!  Yep, I believe Mothers are the backbone of this world!  Mothers, they somehow, someway, magically make life look so easy.  Personally, I know Mothers who mastered going to school, they created an awesome professional identity, got married (or maybe not), AND had children!  Honestly, I often laugh and ask myself, “What was so special about me and my life that I could not find a day, week, month or year to procreate?”  Over the years, it has become easier to explain to people why I do not have children.  Depending on the person, location, or situation, my delivery and answer to the question may be slightly different.  It has taken me a long time to be comfortable AND confident in saying to folk, “I just don’t have any {children} or, I just didn’t want any.”  Most of the time I can leave my answer right there.  For others, my simple answer was just not enough. I saw their curiosity, their raised eyebrows and their blank stare. They wanted a better explanation.  Their non-verbals translated to, "What do you mean, you NEVER wanted children?”  This question has come from family members, friends, potential intimate partners, and recently a random group of sistahs I met at happy hour.  It was not the question that bothered or annoyed me – it was ME that bothered me!  What did not having children say about ME?  At 40+ years old (unmarried and no children) was I, and am I comfortable with this choice, this decision, and my life?  So warning, I'm about to share TMI!  So, of course as you become more mature there comes a time when you stop having visits from Aunt Flo.  My Aunt Flo decided to stop visiting a year ago and I was so happy when she exited stage left!  Well, I guess she missed me so much that she decided to make a recent grand entrance!  She had the audacity to show up unannounced and uninvited!  She stayed around for a while.  I was on the phone recently with my best friend and my Goddaughter.  I shared with them how Aunt Flo’s visit took me by surprise and how she was also getting on my last nerve.  My Goddaughter said something along the lines of, “Godmom, that’s good, that means you can still have babies!”  For a split second, I was like, “Wow, maybe it is still possible?”  WTH!  Did I really just think that?  I was shocked! I wondered why I had this thought.  Did it come from a place of fear, emptiness or feeling incomplete?  Before I could even process or give the thought more attention, I came to my senses, lol!  Nope, I am so good!  I shut down my Goddaughter’s innocent and playful comment and we all had a quick laugh!  There were a few times in my late 30’s and early 40’s that I had fleeting thoughts about having children. However, today, I live vicariously through my friends who are bringing their beautiful little bundles of joy into this world! Not every woman will be a mother. There are many who have no desire to be. There are plenty more who made the conscious choice early on in life to never be. I realize it is perfectly okay for me to just leave my answer right where it is.  No further explanation needed about my ambivalence unless I want to share it.  That ship has forever sailed when it comes to me having babies.  For now and hopefully for a long time to come, I will continue enjoying what my life has to offer and riding these tidal waves!

I would love to hear your thoughts so please share your comments below. Your support is also appreciated so please share this post with others.  Thank you.


Anonymous said…
First of all you are awesome and I so can’t wait to read your book. You are such an inspiration to me and my girls (your goddaughters). I believe God had a plan for everyone and I’m so glad his plans was to bring up together.
Love you
Dr. Faith said…
I have had to answer that question a few times. Thank you for sharing and giving a real voice to life without children.

Love you for sharing this,
Dr. Faith
BeautifulMercy said…
First I would like to say thank you for this wonderful commentary yes I am in the same position myself and you need someone to express eloquently with a little humor and who is an educated person about what it feels like when you are asked over and over again why you don’t have children it’s just in it and people ask you that whether they themselves are gay or straight so there’s no community that doesn’t ask you why you don’t have children and while I was reading your article I remember meeting a woman in college in my 20s She was 47 Sharon house should Bing it been in the banking industry she was married she went back to college for her second career and she had no children she was gorgeous you look like Anita Baker and she did try to mother us slightly I do believe myself even I looked at her as fabulous as she was as wow she doesn’t have children that was like a flaw also the state of African-American women in this country we live a different experience we don’t feel different but our experience is just in the natural so different from everyone else most race most races their women are married also a lot of women have Marriages so but for 10 of those years they had an open marriage is just a façade some women not willing to put up with things also I would like to highlight since I read your commentary it made me think about the 194 students I had in a three month. I was a mother to them on some level maybe not all of them but for the ones that took to me if I wasn’t a mother I was definitely a very good auntie I myself probably will Adopt soon I think it’s because I work in the school system and I’m around children and you can love other people’s children so much but when they’re not yours you can’t always watch them grow up so I ... I kind a want my own and That will stay in my life so thank you this is such a needed topic I hope your blog catches on fire we need the show we need the movie thank you so very much Also thank you for taking a leap of faith and showing everyone how to take something that might be painful and make it productive and beautiful thank you
Dirah said…
Thanks for sharing, this is awesome. I feel like having kids is a personal choice and when a woman chooses not to have children so many question why. But "they" [society] ask questions all the time even if you have children. Oh you only have 1 child, when are you going to have another? Oh you have 2 children, go ahead and try for a third. Girl you have 3 kids, you better slow down. 4 kids or more girl you better stop having all those kids. As with everything else your not going to please everyone. Let's make choosing not to having kids acceptable and stop making women who physically cant have children feel bad. Celebrate childless success, come to my "I accomplish a goal I set shower" lol... you get my point. As a 36 year old, separated, childless female I understand where you're coming from. Continue to live your best childless life! God Mommys' are a blessing! :)
Monique Turner said…
Hey Soror thanks for being so open and honest.Your feelings are very valet, society makes women feel incomplete because you don't have any children. Hell some people think that you are not a women at all or that something is "wrong" with you.I have always wanted children but did not want them out of wedlock. As a women in my 50 I regret that decision but stand by it. Children can bring joy and laughter in your life but fir those of us who don't have them are more creative because we find other things to do that and don't need a sitter for it:)
Tanae said…
I must say, this struck some emotion while reading. As I stated in your previous blog, I have a soft place in my heart for women who don't have children, and it's far from pity. As reading this, I thought about the power of choice. How many women really choose to have children? Life happens, and bam! You have children! This was very powerful to see that you made a choice! We all go back and forth with the choices that we make/made in our lives, but you were in the driver's seat, which proves you are living and not just existing. Kudos to you! I look forward to you blog and thank you for your transparency. Im sure this is a journey of discovery as well...thank you for including us.
Carolyn said…
Great message Dr. Harris. You have given a voice to group that is relevant and often looked over. I throughly enjoyed this submission and I embraced your transparency. Can’t wait for the book to come out!!
Kim said…
Thank you for sharing. I have learned to never ask that question because I know that in addition to the many women who CHOOSE not to have children, many women are UNABLE to have them due to medical issues. We have to challenge the mindset that a woman's worth is tied to whether or not she has a man and/or children. Live your best life :)
Kellea Tibbs said…
Thank you and great post. Unfortunately, I have had the same exact experience. And the shock and awe that people feel it necessary to express about why you don't have children cracks me up. What bothers me even more is the fact that when I say, I'm 45 and, to me, past the normal child bearing years, some people, mostly women,who are usually married, will say, oh you can still have a baby. After giving them the side eye, I State, nah, I'm good. Plus, knowing all of the risks that come with having children the older you are, is a major deterrent to me. Also, I believe that a woman needs to be somewhat maternal. Let's keep it real, there are a lot of women with kids who a mad about it and they treat their kids as such and let's not act like we haven't heard stories about women exiting stage left and leaving or even abandoning kids with grandparents and even husbands. Lastly, your point of telling people, "I'm not married, therefore, no kids", should also be a sufficient answer because, for all these folks who consider themselves Christian, I believe the Bible does say something about that. Now, I'm no Bible thumper, however, I would definitely prefer to have a husband involved with the process, no matter how old I am, I should love whom I'm with and be in a committed, marriage relationship, and let's not front, economically, it just makes more sense, for me at least. Taking care of myself by myself is a load. I've never been one of those women who had to "have it all" and that has never included having a child by myself. I'm too selfish and enjoy my alone time too much.
Jules said…
You know me... had my 2 late... one at 38 and one at 40. I never saw myself having kids. Never really wanted kids. Situations change and now I cannot imagine my life without them. Never imagined I'd be divorced single mom of 2 young boys later in life than most my friends. I am occasionally asked if I am mom or grandma...oh very. Life is too short. Women need to stop pressuring themselves and others. Do what works for your life, be happy, be healthy. Maybe you made your mind up early about kids, maybe you thought you did. Maybe the situation has never been right, maybe you mourn a missed opportunity, maybe you are leVing all options open. All options are yours...your life, your choice... I hope women can feel empowered by the choices they now have and don't have to live by the outdated expectation that they be the woman of the house- cooking and cleaning, barefoot and pregnant, waiting on the man to come home. Do your own thing with your head held high.
P.Leigh said…
This post resonated with me. I just recently took someone to task for pestering me about having children. They kept forecasting children in my future: "Just wait until you have your kids. Oh you're young and you don't know what you want. You will have at least 2 children and a husband." I got so angry I had to explain a very private reason as to why I did not want children which made them feel terrible. I followed it up with saying, "a person should never have to show you their scars in order for you to accept their decision making process." Sometimes we simply do not want children and that, no matter how good your intentions should be enough."

As for me, I really sat down and did a lot of digging and therapy to come to the realization that I genuinely did not have a desire to have children, I just had a desire to please those around me and children was a part of that. I did not feel like I was living my best life unless I fit a societal mold. Once I broke free of that thinking, I declared my womb a no-baby-zone and I have not looked back. :-)
La Vonne said…
Hi, I love the post. I can relate to so many of your thoughts. Except, I've always wanted at least one child, a little girl. I ache sometimes because I am not a mom. I am unable to have children plus I'm 49 years old now. I can't go into the baby section in stores because I tear up. I'm slowly starting to come to terms that not having children does not make me less than a woman. It just makes me a little sad. I'll tell you more about my situation soon. Be Blessed and thanks for sharing and for this platform. Love you Sis!

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