In Praise of Child Free Women Orbiting Thirty
I know that ever since you turned twenty-five, there have been questions. Well-meaning prods and probes about the current state and future plans of your uterus. More if you're married. I know you can't complain of nausea or light-headedness without someone's elbow nudging your shoulder, asking if you're sure you aren't late for something. I know it gets fucking obnoxious.
I know the reasons that you're child free are numerous. You may consciously choose it. You may want kids later but not right now. You may be grappling with infertility. You may be looking for the right partner or not sure what you're looking for at all. I know that you are single, dating, married, straight, queer, neurotypical, neuroatypical, and scattered across the economic spectrum.
I know that media and culture tells you that the clock is ticking. That motherhood is the ultimate feminine destiny; the next epoch. I know it can feel like everyone is boarding the train but you, regardless of if you've chosen to stay on the platform or if you're running desperately to try to hop the rails.
I know we're not supposed to stay friends. My motherhood is a peninsula whose connection to you is supposed to erode with each baby milestone, each additional child, each year of more nights spent at home than at our favorite bar with the breezy courtyard and the $9 duck fat fries. I'm supposed to start feeling at home with the other moms who can understand my daily child-rearing grind with an innate empathy, and less comfortable with your eight hours of sleep and candlelit baths and complaints of being bored on a Sunday afternoon. I'm supposed to resent you a little and at the same time feel superior to you, and eventually we're supposed to only see each other at weddings and grocery store run-ins.
But you know what, Child Free Woman? I think that's absolute bullshit.
Because I need you in my life.
My child free friends are a vital part of my community, and their role is unique and irreplaceable. My child free friends invite me to adult social events that I sometimes forget exist and pull me out of the parenting bubble at regular intervals--a healthy practice I rarely enact on my own. They text me about things other than toddler bowel movements and field trip permission slips. They come over late at night to drink beer on my porch after my kids have gone to bed. They are honorary aunts--something I particularly cherish as an only child--and they spend time with my children, giving them energy and attention and guidance when I am depleted of all three. They support my family in ways that would be impossible to sustain if they were raising young children of their own at the same time.
My child free friends challenge my expectations of motherhood, and keep me from becoming a hermit. They suggest bringing my kids to crowded festivals and herbalism workshops that parents instantly recoil from because they know how much of a pain in the ass the whole thing will be, and I agree because I love their company and I haul the kids in the car and go and you know what? It's not that big of a pain and everyone has fun.
My child free friends are a balm to my soul. Motherhood can be consuming and I am prone to being consumed. My child free friends are a tether to a world beyond the joys and trials of shepherding tiny humans through life.
So Child Free Woman Orbiting Thirty, if you've ever felt out of place among your mama friends...if you've ever sensed the subtle, relentless tides of culture tugging at your sense of identity, I want you to know that I see you, I honor you, I appreciate you endlessly.
You kick major ass, and I hope you know it.