By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
“If you’d really wanted to be a mother, you could have….”
OMG, how I hate sentences that start out like this. The advice the friend/parent/coworker/stranger then offers is well-intentioned (I hope), but so often feels shaming. It might be meant to be encouraging, but instead it comes down to “Clearly you didn’t want it badly enough.”
Well, f*&% that!
As a long-time single woman who ran out of time, one of the pieces of advice I frequently received was “You could have just knocked yourself up”—meaning I could have seduced some guy, “accidentally” neglected to use birth control, and duped him into being an unwitting sperm donor. Even writing this now, I find that so offensive. Morally, that does not align with who I am. Thinking about the deceit involved—whether the guy chose to marry me to make our child “legitimate” or whether I kept the pregnancy to myself and raised the child alone—makes my flesh crawl.
I guess the people who suggested this avenue thought it would be easy and victim-less, but I know better. My friend Paul (not his real name) was a very successful model. Early in his career, while he was in his late teens, he fell in love with a woman who was several years older, also a model. Their relationship was fiery, and ultimately heartbreaking for him when she broke it off after six months with no explanation. She disappeared from his life, and he assumed she had traveled to another country for work, as he frequently did.
Six years later he was in New York when he ran into her on the street. Holding her hand was a beautiful little girl who clearly was Paul’s daughter. When confronted, his former girlfriend coldly explained that she had chosen him for his genes, that she had never cared for him as a potential mate, that “her” daughter knew nothing about him, and that she wanted no part of him in their lives. When he shared this story with me years later, he was still devastated. My heart broke for him and for the girl who may never know the kind man who is her father.
It’s true that I wanted to be a mother desperately, and I pursued different options for having a child of my own. But when faced with the option of using and hurting other human beings, I realized a hard truth: I didn’t want it badly enough. And I do not regret my choice.