I am 28 years old and I am not a mother.
This is not a default setting, a goal to be achieved in the future, the wrong time. This is an active choice I have made and have continued to make. One day I may shift to a new choice. Today is not that day.
Being a mother is important work. It’s work I do not take lightly and work I wish to elevate, not diminish. Thank you to my mother for giving up so much for me – her body, her agency, and in many ways the freedom to live a life of whims. My mother is incredible. She is kind and giving, and never once complained about the sacrifices she’s made to raise daughters who slay dragons. Who move across the country and eat ramen for the opportunity to learn and thrive. To raise daughters who flew away. My mother actively decided to make the choice to become a parent. She had access to family planning and birth control. She has a partner who has actively participated in family planning.
We are witnessing the criminalization of people who choose to not mother*.
Mothering is not a default setting.
Mothering is not a consequence.
Mothering is not inevitable.
Mothering is an active decision.
Mothering can be done by all genders.
Mothering can be done by anyone.
Mothering should only be done by those who wish to do so.
We are not choosing the life of a fetus. We are choosing to force mothering on a generation of people who do not want it.
We are not choosing the life of a fetus. We are choosing to allow children to be raised in environments of neglect and despair.
We are not choosing the life of a fetus. We are choosing to criminalize autonomy of victims over the autonomy of their abusers.
We are not choosing a fetus. We tell children they can become anything, and then tether and restrict their lives when they are forced to mother. We went into the world to try to become anything we wanted to be, and were met with shame, embarrassment and condecended in every space. We were treated like we were stupid. We were treated like our bodies are the most important part of us.
Of course we are treated like our bodies are the most important part of us. Our bodies are what allow forced mothering.
This has nothing to do with a fetus. This has everything to do with power and politics.
We are casualties of people who do not care about children. They care about votes, power,and legacy.
They especially don’t care that half of children born will grow up in a world where 30% of them will be sexually assaulted, 19% will be sexually harassed at work, and where 25% of them would seek a legal and safe abortion in their lifetime.
With the current laws spreading across north america, that means 25% of people who can birth children will become forced mothers in their lifetime.
I am angry that you believe my goals and aspirations for my life are secondary to me becoming a forced mother.
I am angry that you believe I should put my own life at risk to carry a baby to term that may never be properly raised, comforted, or loved.
I am angry that becoming a mother is the only role I have been pushed towards. The only achievement that is cared about. The only way others perceive me to have value.
My body. How it looks, what it produces.
I am angry that the role of mothering is taken so lightly. That we believe people are old enough to become forced mothers, but are not old enough to drink alcohol, vote, or protect our country.
I’m angry that you believe if I am sexually assaulted that I should be forced to grow a token of my trauma for nine months. That I should be forced to share parental roles with my perpetrator. Go to court to prove that my pregnancy was caused by an assault. To have to have my body ripped in half a second time. That the perpetrator of an assault may sue me for custody. To make a decision to give an infant away after months of lying or telling the public about my sexual assault when I’m asked about my pregnancy.
I am 28 years old. I am many things, but I am not a mother.
*I am using “mothering” as a term for the primary caregiver role to children. I understand that not all primary caregivers are mothers or women, and that many people of all genders are effected by reproductive rights and laws. I do not wish to diminish the experience of those effected by reproductive laws.