It's funny what pops into mind when I am working on something relatively mindless. Yesterday, it was switching the shower curtains. Moving the one from our bathroom to the guest bath, and putting in a new one in our bath. [I had to move ours because I washed it in hot water and bleach thanks to a small mildew issue...and then the curtain and liner both shrank so much that they weren't doing the job in our stall shower...oops.] Anyway, there I was on the bathroom floor, threading hooks through the holes in the shower curtain, when I flashed back to my old boss and something she used to say quite frequently.
She was old-school feminist. And by that, I mean that she was one of the first women to go to her medical school. She did not want to change her name. She does not wear a wedding ring. She seems almost...angry...when someone asks after her husband. Part of this is personality and part is, I think, a product of the era in which she came of age.
Part of her set of core beliefs was that women who choose to have children - and who then integrate raising their children with a career - are shortchanging their careers. She chose not to have children - and she thinks that *all* career-minded women should make the same choice. That this woman specialized in a field with children boggles the mind. But there it is.
Anyway, I used to listen to her ranting about the latest pregnant employee, or lamenting the fact that so-and-so would never be the same now that she had a child, or being downright angry that an employee had the *gall* to get pregnant and now required (gasp!) maternity leave! I mean, really!
I always kind of protested in my head, but I kept quiet when she went on her rampages. There was nothing to be gained from engaging her, and I knew that I wanted a family and a career. When I got married, I added my husband's name to my own. I'm now exclusively using my married last name professionally and personally. I don't think that this reduces me in anyway, or that it means I have lost my identity.
But my inability to have a child...in a weird way, it makes me feel like I am agreeing with her. And I don't. I really, really don't. I think that the beauty of feminism is that women are free to make their own choices. Some women choose to have children - some women do not. Some women choose to change their names after marriage - some women do not (or their husbands change their names, or both parties change their names). Some women choose to work after having children, other women do not. I have made my own choices - career, taking my husband's last name, etc. But I feel like the choice have children was taken away from me.
In part, I think I have these feelings because we have chosen not to pursue other avenues for having a family. Again, each family chooses what is right for its members. For us, right now, it does not make sense to pursue other options. That is the choice we have made. But because we are not barreling full-steam down the path of different reproductive options, or pursuing adoption, I...feel like we didn't want it enough? I'm not sure how to articulate this. We really wanted a child - we were willing to do some interventions to get there - but not knowing what the problem is, or what the outcomes would be of different, more expensive, and more intensive interventions was a problem for us. But we were not willing to sacrifice our emotional and financial security to have a child. And because of that - because of a choice that my husband and I made consciously (albeit reluctantly) - I feel like I am a bad infertile. Or that we didn't want this enough.
And knowing how my old boss feels - that women *shouldn't* have children if they also want to have a career - I feel like I have bought in to her mentality. That, if she could see me now (and I may cross paths with her in the future), she would be *proud* that I do not have children, and that I am instead focusing on my career. And I don't want that - this is not a choice I wanted to make.
It makes me think of all the variables that are known to the people making choices and decisions, that aren't known to everyone on the outside looking in. We can never really know exactly why an individual or a couple makes a particular decision. But maybe we can believe that, whatever the choice or decision, that individual or couple has weighed all the evidence available, and has come to the decision that is right for them. Life - and its associated choices - is hard enough.