I've always been a fan of Jennifer Aniston. I'm drawn to the actress's girl-next-door personality, gorgeous hair and toned body. After watching her interview with Carson Daly on Today, I respect -- and relate to -- the Friends star even more. Like Aniston, I'm a childless, unmarried 40-something (albeit single) woman.
Referring to her personal conversations and interview with Gloria Steinem about feminism for The MAKERS Conference, Aniston talked about constantly being asked when she'll marry and have babies. Her comments struck a chord with childless women around the world:
I don't have this sort of checklist of things that have to be done, and if they're not checked, then I've failed some part of my feminism or my being a woman or my worth and my value as a woman because I haven't birthed a child. I've birthed a lot of things and feel I've mothered many things. I don't think it's fair to put that pressure on people.
What a light-bulb moment! Although I've dedicated years to volunteering with children and being a caregiver to my mom, Aniston's comments made me think differently about the definition of "birthing." Our culture usually connects this word with having children, forgetting it doesn't always involve infants. A household name opened my mind to the possibilities. I've birthed projects and mothered people throughout my life. The fact that I haven't birthed children shouldn't diminish my contributions to society. I'm childless by choice and circumstance since I'm terminally single (hopefully not forever). As a young adult, I remember saying I didn't want children. The overwhelming response? "Oh, that will change." It didn't. I've never had a longing for motherhood.
Whose business is it, anyway? Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I want to experience child birth. Just because I am the youngest of eleven doesn't mean I want a bunch of kids. I love inspiring and teaching children. I don't want any of my own. And, I'm not alone. Countless couples and women feel the same way. We shouldn't have to explain or defend our decision. I'm always amazed (in general) by questions people think they have the right to ask me. To make matters worse, they keep pushing when I don't give a direct answer. I've often responded with "why do you ask?" in an attempt to stop them in their tracks. I'm shocked at how often that doesn't work. The decision to have children is a personal, sensitive subject. An important reminder: not all women want or are able to give birth. So, think carefully before you open up Pandora's box. It's time to put an end to the stigma surrounding the child-free population.
I'm sorry Jennifer Aniston has to field questions about her personal life all the time. She hit the nail on the head! It's not fair to pressure people about getting married and/or having children. Join me in thanking our favorite friend for reminding us that all women are valuable -- regardless of whether or not we give birth.