Can I have kids and still experience freedom as a parent?
I can't stop wrestling with this question, which may or may not be a surprise to you. 30 isn't too far off and society/culture teaches us that a woman's main purpose is to birth and raise children. With 30 creeping up I'm running out of time to do so, so they say...
I used to stiff arm most discussions about kids and hop on my feminist soap box to vent to my husband whenever anyone asked me when I'm having them. More recently though, I find myself thinking and talking about kids a lot, and discussing my struggle to make a decision about whether or not to have them.
What I struggle with most in making this decision is the impact having children will have on my personal freedom. If I'm being totally honest, sometimes children feel like the antithesis of freedom.
I have listened to so many friends, family members and other women talk about how they can’t go on a date night with their partner, get together with friends, take up a hobby, spend money on themselves, or travel. Every week I go to work and I see how hard it is, even for a mother who has some major help. Maybe you'll get to do basic things like shower once every three or four days... maybe.
In every single conversation or venting session, I notice that the blame is always placed on the fact that they have kids. Yes, having and raising kids changes a person's entire life and adds a significant level of responsibility. Yes, having kids means that adorable little persons must be considered when making most, if not all, decisions. Yes, some women do not have help from their partner/other parent, friends or family members, or have difficulty affording childcare.
I acknowledge all of these things that make it difficult for parents, particularly women, to continue doing the things they enjoyed before having kids. I also wonder if the time and energy spent venting and complaining about the perceived negative impact on one's life could be redirected toward figuring out how to make it possible to still maintain a sense of freedom, and then actually trying to make it happen.
Personally, I don’t want to believe the two are mutually exclusive. I have been searching for evidence that they aren't, because frankly, I don’t think I have ever really heard anyone talk about how having children contributes to them feeling more free (with the exception of maybe 2 moms who responded to one of my questions about this on Instagram a while back.)
I've been searching for this evidence for over a year, and as I sit to write this, it dawned on me to go back to a past post where I defined what freedom looks like to me. I read that definition, my definition, and I have to admit, I don't feel as though any part of my definition can't be true if I decide to be a mother.
What I perceived as a threat to my freedom (as I define it) is really just a threat to my lifestyle as a kid-free, pet-free woman. Unless I decide to change my definition of freedom to the ability to do what I want, when I want, without having to consider how my actions impact a child, then kids and freedom aren't mutually exclusive for me.
So now I face two questions:
1. Am I willing to adjust my values and shift my mindset about life with kids?
2. Do I want to and am I ready to alter my lifestyle to be a mother?
Two questions that I will table and answer another day...
Whether you have kids or not, how do you perceive their impact on your level of freedom?
If you’re a parent and feeling free as can be, what do you do to maintain your sense of freedom?
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