Every time a female politician begins a statement with "as a mother" I tend to switch off. It's a patronising and lazy way to give yourself authority on a subject. "As a mother" doesn't mean anything other than you may know your own offspring quite well. Hopefully.
This past weekend brought about hysteria on both sides following an article in The Times on one of the women running for leader of the Tory party. Andrea Leadsom thought that being a mother gave her an edge, a bigger "stake" in the future of the U.K, and life in general over her opponent, Theresa May. By lowering the tone of the leadership contest to womb one-upmanship, Leadsom has since not only apologised, but as of this afternoon has resigned from running for PM altogether.
Of course many people debated it online and in person, and it was the usual breakdown of logic, descending into chaos before dampening down. I don't think being a mother, or not being a mother should be a talking point at all when discussing someone's worthiness. I don't believe being a parent makes you any more capable of running a country than someone without children. I do believe, however, this was only an issue because two women were competing for the same job. One of those lowered herself to the talking point, but everyone involved showed how far we still have to go.
The thing is - there are stupid people who procreate, and stupid people who don't. There are angry, sexist, homophobic and racist people who have kids, and there are angry, sexist, homophobic and racist folks who don't. Having children does not immediately make you a better person. Not having kids doesn't make you a better person.
Having children is exhausting I'm certain of it! But living any life is tiring. My husband and I put all our efforts into our careers, our home, and life together. We go to bed every night thankful for rest. We don't get woken up for nightly feeds, or by a screaming baby, but we've woken from stress, we've worked late and we rarely have a day off together.
My future isn't exclusive. I don't plan for myself. My votes aren't for things to only go in my favour. The bigger picture requires us all, globally, to survive and prosper. Everyone must be treated with respect, everyone deserves the best life.This is not a solo trip for me.
I've always felt that I wouldn't have children of my own. It's something my husband and I talked a lot about before we got married. He surprised me with his own thoughts on the subject, and it brought us both great relief that we felt the same way.
Not everyone understands. Regardless of the simple answer of "it's not something I want to do", the look and smiles of those around me imply loudly that I have no idea what I'm talking about .
Arguments for me having children are always the same, as are my replies:
"You'll see, you'll change your mind once the biological alarm clock starts ticking!" I'm 37... Please tell me when it'll kick in so I can switch it to snooze.
"But you'd be a great mother!" Guess what? I know I would! I'm not a monster. I honestly couldn't adore my niece, nephew, and little cousins more. Any day that I get to see them is a super day. I just don't want one for keepsies.
"Your dogs are hairy substitutions." I can live with that.
"Your father would make the best granddad. This is a certainty, a fact beyond dispute, but surely not a good enough reason?
Once I was married I had a bit of a freak out. With so many well intentioned people asking us when we'd have a child, I started to doubt my right to continue with my choice. What if he changed his mind? Wouldn't it be the right thing to do? I talked over the panic that this change of name and marital status had instilled and he assured me that I'm not suddenly a baby making facility. Things do happen, and life has a way of colouring outside the lines of our organised lists, so I know we'd deal with anything coming our way. But we plan on being together, surrounded by dogs. If there's a child, that'll be fine. If not, cool too.
I'm childless by choice, and despite the newlywed panic, I've never regretted it. I consider myself very maternal, nurturing and family orientated. My mother showered me and my siblings with all the love she could before she died. She showed me what a strong, intelligent woman could be.
Those are not traits only given to mothers, however. Many men are single handedly supporting, loving and rearing their own families - I know this firsthand from my own brilliant father who discussed everything from periods and boys to careers and cars with us. My dad is 81, and for the purpose of this post I asked him when he felt ready to be a father. He replied that he never felt ready, still doesn't. He just feels unconditional love with the clear knowledge that he'd do anything for us.
So there was no secret code? No insight as to what to do? Nope. He's flying blind like the rest of us. Fuelled by love. Open to making tomorrow bright for all. Choosing your own path is a privilege, and one I'm forever thankful I can forge on my terms. It's time to stop with the ridiculous judgements, there is no Parents Vs Non Parents. Be the best person you can be and the future really will be better for everyone, my "hairy substitutions" included.