Last week I was watching Kathie Lee & Hoda (I know, I know), but occassionally I tune into them after The Today Show goes off.  Most of the time I can’t handle the silly banter and wine drinking at 10 A.M., but every so often they feature a really moving topic.  On Tuesday morning’s show, Hoda and Jenna Bush Hager had a segment in which they interviewed Melanie Notkin, author of OTHERHOOD.  The book speaks on woman who are in their child-bearing years, who are childless, for one reason or another.  Now, you might ask, “Tenns your a mom, a new mom at that, so how is this relevant to you?”.  Well, to be honest, yes I am a mom, I do have child that I birthed myself at the height of my child-bearing years, and yes God-willing I plan to have more, but any issue concerning women as a whole, I’m concerned with.  I think this is exactly what “Otherhood” is about.  Being a mom is a wonderful thing, a blessing, something that shouldn’t be traded for the world, but so is being a woman…mom or not.  Not having children doesn’t make a woman any less than a woman.  Whether a woman decides to wait on having kids, until she has other areas of her life fulfilled or not at all, its about the purpose she brings to her life overall.  For many of us, our kids give us purpose, I know my son gives me purpose.  However, I had purpose before him and one day when he’s all grown up and out of the house, I’ll still have purpose.  

Some women are a victim, so to say, of circumstance when it comes to not having kids.  Hoda posed the question that people feel “okay” with just asking women why they don’t have kids yet.  It can be for many different reasons, even divorce or sickness sometimes, but people don’t stop and think about that.  Well, the same thing happens if you have kids.  People always want to know when you’re having a baby, when #2, #3, or #4 is or isn’t going to happen.  They also love to tell when you should and shouldn’t have kids.  Although my son is a little over 4 months, there’s a general consensus from many, including, family that my husband and I should wait to have #2.  Its like their doing us a favor, telling us to wait (even though we have no plans of expanding our family any time soon), so we won’t have “two in diapers”…oh the horror!  Nonetheless, as I digress, because that’s another post all together, people always feel the need to judge or tell women what to do.

I remember when I broke up with my ex from college, everyone said “be single, have fun”…blah, blah, blah.  On the flipside, I heard don’t let guys waste your time and take advantage of you, so “focus on yourself”.  Before I got married, people, yes people as in men and women, said “take your time”, “you have plenty of time to get married and have kids”, “focus on your career”.  Its like geez, a girl can’t win!  Women that do choose to focus on their careers, and remain unmarried and childless are judged.  Its as if many times they’re viewed as second-class women.  No one ever stopped to think that those women might be perfectly fullfilled and content with their lives as it is, whether married or not or with or without children.  Women who choose the other route, focusing on marriage and children get backlash too.  Especially the ones that have advanced education and had a career prior to marriage and kids.  I can speak from personal experience when I say this.  People say, “Why waste your education and all the skills you’ve obtained, just to be a SAHM.” “What a waste of money to spend going to college, if you don’t plan on using your degree.”.  Well, I’ll be the first to say that by no means am I or have I wasted my education or degree.  I use it everyday, more than I did when I worked, managing my household, being a wife, and raising my son.

As women, we should be embraced despite the choices we make in life.  As long as these choices aren’t harmful to ourselves or others, a woman shouldn’t be judged on whether she has kids or not.  She shouldn’t be judged on whether she chooses to work outside the home, inside the home, or not at all.  Yes, there are lazy women everywhere and selfish ones too, but that doesn’t mean its every woman you see.  Women who choose to work, and not have kids aren’t selfish, they are simply doing what works for them.  Women who stay at home and raise kids aren’t lazy, they are simply doing what works for them and their family.  These are common stereotypes of women in both situations, and its unfair to both.  Women shouldn’t be misunderstood, if anything people should strive to understand us better.  Its not surface level, and no should assume that anything a woman does is.

I’m not here to advocate either way, but the segment on Otherhood did open my eyes to so many issues that women face.  Of course I can’t relate to a woman in her mid-late 30s and early forties who doesn’t have children.  However, I can relate to being judged as a woman in general, and people feeling the need to tell me what I need to be doing at a certain stage in life.  I can also relate to being given unsolicited advice and unwelcome verbalized thoughts on certain things I do as a mother. Its the plight of being a woman, and it most likely won’t ever change.  The more aware of it we are, the better we can deal with it.  At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to:  Dealing…despites the odds and norms.

xxoo,

Tenns Reid

I'm Tenns, the blogger, graphic designer, and business + content creation strategists behind Bliss & Faith. This is my little corner of the web that I've dedicated to helping fellow bloggers and creatives reach their goals. I'm so glad you dropped by and hope that you that you find valuable resources here to help you achieve your dreams!

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9 Comments

  1. Oh yes. People love to talk. It’s been going on since high school – “Where are you going to college.” And then in college – “What are you studying? What do you plan to do next?” And then it’s about marriage, and then kids. I’ve had people say to me, “You have a boy and a girl. Your family is complete!” And I want to say, “What if it isn’t? What if I want ten girls in order to feel complete??” (I don’t)
    You really can’t win.

    1. You are so right, they do! Its amazing that people do always have so much to say about your life. Its the plight of being a woman. People always expect us to make them happy, instead of ourselves.

  2. I totally agree with you. Otherhood should not just be about women who don’t have children. The idea is actually very insulting to me. Otherhood should be about women who do not adopt the “norms” of society in some way or another. I am a mother, but I refuse to believe that that is all I am. I know people…even in my own family who put pressure on me to have a second (the opposite of yours) just because we have a first. But I am happy with one. We love him and support his growth, but I in no way shape or form believe that that means I have to stop growing as a person or following my own dreams. I believe that by living like this I, with my personality, will be far more inspirational to him than if I were to follow a more traditional path. Being part of the otherhood should mean that we don’t judge women for making the choices that are best adapted to their own personal circumstances. Each woman has so much that she goes up against every day, judgement from a fellow woman, should not be one of them. Great post! Looking forward to getting to know you through the SITS Spring Cleaning!

    1. Yes you’re so right! I totally agree that Otherhood shouldn’t just be about whether a woman has children or not. It should be about women who are doing what they want to do, when they want to do it, and how they want to do it. As a woman, whether you’re a mother or not we should be doing things to empower us and make us a good and not doing things just to please others. All too often I think that’s what women do and why many times the result is us being unhappy or being made to feel bad.

      Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts! 🙂

  3. This is pretty interesting. I honestly don’t care anymore to be judged by people because making judgments is something we all do every single day. Even this post is a judgment you have made about the state of how women are perceived no matter which path they choose. For me, it’s the gossip that gets on my last nerve. There are reasons as to why I believed that marrying young was the right thing to do and not seeking a career and focusing on a family was more important even after having my son, but that is something that is embedded in my beliefs. I honestly think there is a right and wrong way to go about life and it’s not always a what works for me may not work for you type of thing. Some things are just flat out right and some things are just flat out wrong, but what I don’t like to do is sit around and gossip about people’s decisions. I have done my best to surround myself around like-minded women. The nice thing about the blog world is being able to connect with other women where we find common ground on different levels. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not too sure that this type of relationship could be carried out in person just because if we don’t have enough common ground, things could get pretty old and hard to discuss after a while. 🙂 People do what they want and how they want. I honestly do my best in a society that is fixated on gossip to remove myself from situations before I even have the audacity to gossip and comment on what someone else is doing. 🙂

    1. Oh I completely agree with you when it comes to gossip. I hate gossip! Its probably the reason that in real life I don’t really have many female friends. There’s always been something about the gossip and judgment that just keeps me from having a lot of female friends. Fortunately, in the blogging world I’ve come across some great women who whether they agree with me or not on a given topic, are nice, non-confrontational and don’t gossip about mundane things. 🙂

      Yes, I think that as humans, we all judge people every single day. However I think there’s a difference between being completely negative and making someone feel bad about a decision and simply just stating your opinion on it. I could totally respect someone’s opinion if it’s relayed an objective way. However, if someone is voicing their opinion, especially if it’s unwelcome then I feel like that’s a whole other level of judgment. A lot of times people feel the need to give you unsolicited advice, to tell you what to do, what you shouldn’t be doing and that’s mainly what I was speaking about in this post.

  4. Hi Tens! This is a great post. I hadn’t heard of the term “Otherhood” before and I really appreciate the concept. I think I mentioned before that I am childfree by choice–definitely “other” than the vast majority of your readers, but I appreciate your openminded perspective very much. Yes, there are many people out there–women and men–who simply can’t seem to imagine life that is different from the choices and decisions they have lived and made. So they go around offering their best advice but it simply has no bearing on many of the lives they seek to help. Throughout the years I have had a number of women tell me they couldn’t imagine how I could ever by fulfilled without children. But like you said, they don’t know me and really have no idea what “fulfills me”. They are really just talking about themselves. The challenge for us all is to be more accepting and realize that other people have a difficult time walking in anyone else’s shoes. Perhaps the best bet would just be as supportive as possible for all the many choices we all have in life and stay focused on those things that personally bring us the most joy and fulfillment. ~Kathy

  5. Women, are hard on other women. I myself, say we should not judge but realistically we all make snap judgements. However, it’s what we do with that snap judgement, do we ignore it and get to know the person or their circumstance.

    I try to stir away from gossip, sometimes, I’m reeled in 🙁
    Perhaps, that’s why RHO {fill in a city} is huge. We {women} see gossip and judging and find it entertaining, probably because we know it’s wrong and we wouldn’t act in that foolish.
    I always feel simply thankful after watching those shows because I don’t have that DRAMA in my life.
    I know I’m not perfect and in my own imperfect skin, I should not judge another.

    Last night I chatted with a group of mothers #MotherhoodChat and we talked about the motherhood judgement. Mothers can be just as harsh and down right rude to one another.
    In the end we’re women, and we should empower one another regardless of life decisions.

    XOXO

    1. You are so right! Society in general is hard on women. I totally agree with you about snap judgments. Even if we don’t mean to make them we do. I think, like you said, its what we do with them. I may make a snap judgement about someone, but I don’t speak on it. Many times, people make these snap judgements and feel the need to voice their unsolicited thoughts to us.

      Yes! Such a guilty pleasure, but I think its human nature to want to indulge in foolishness like Real Housewives. Its always funny (or entertaining) to watch other people go through it, but not so fun when its us. I would never want to be on one of those shows. I couldn’t take the drama and gossip. I’m always thankful too after watching them, because I am so thankful I don’t that drama in my life either (even if I were getting paid for it!).

      I agree, we should empower each other despite the different choices we make in life. In a perfect world, I guess! I at least try to as much as I can. 🙂

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