Why Won’t People Just Let Me Not Be a Mom?

The summer after ninth grade, I worked as a nanny in The Hamptons. I used to be actually called a “mother’s helper,” but I can’t say I used to be much help. The mother needed to prompt me, “Any probability you could possibly get off the bed and watch the children, or a minimum of fold a few of these sheets?”

I’d applied for the position so I could spend August on the beach and meet boys. But I met zero boys, and in addition didn’t win over the 2 little ones in my charge. The younger son, age 4, tantrumed for hours every time his parents left the home. As soon as they drove off, he’d break his wailing for one chilling moment to inform me, “I’ll chop your head off.”

Though I had no friends (or boys) to hang around with, I lived for my time without work, once I could ride away on my bike and escape the children. I used to be just 14, and already just like the mother within the 2021 film The Lost Daughter, feeling smothered and dreaming of abandoning the family to experience life and pleasure again. Briefly, I wasn’t motherly.

“I never loved babies or children, either,” my mom encouraged me in my adult years. “Until I had you.” Someday, she promised, I’d feel the identical way about my very own little ones. I’m sure I might have if I’d ever had any, but, ultimately, I made a decision to not, because I didn’t want them. I kept waiting to want them—to feel that mythical “maternal longing” kick in—and it never did. That’s to not say I all the time felt clear in my alternative. I spent an excellent decade on the fence, at a loss for evidence that, as a girl, you could possibly forgo raising a family and still lead a satisfying, completely satisfied life. Almost nobody talked about this path, or made it look fun and normal, especially not within the media.

“You’ll change your mind,” people almost uniformly predicted once I told them I probably wasn’t having kids. Or, as if I had just said I used to be planning on it but waiting for the best moment, they’d insist, “Well, you continue to have time.”

Irrespective of what number of pets the writer may own, she’s going to never be a “fur mama.”

Getty + Design Leah Romero

These exchanges happened once I was visibly in my childbearing years. Now that I’m 53, my face might make you’re thinking that I even have time, however the neck—as Nora Ephron and plastic surgeons have all warned—tells a special story. So people have largely stopped attempting to persuade me to push out babies (in sunlight hours, anyway). As an alternative, they wrongly assume that I feel bad about not having kids. That I’m secretly lacking, craving, bereft, or empty inside. Many try to supply what they think is comfort, attempting to influence me that I’m still some type of mother, especially when Mother’s Day rolls around.

“Mother’s Day is for you, too,” one email subscriber told me a couple of years ago once I sent out an article I’d written about not having kids. The lady explained, “Because you might be a mom. You are a mother…to words!”

Replies like hers piled up in my inbox, echoing unsolicited reassurances I receive on a regular basis: “You nurture your copywriting clients!” “You’re a doula—of great copy!” “I’m sure you might have fur babies.” “What about plants, bet you’re an ideal plant mommy.” And, after all, there’s all the time: “Hey, you get to be the cool auntie.”

Now that I’ve written my first book, Tough Titties, people wish to say “You birthed a book!” “Congrats in your book baby!” “Thanks,” I say, inwardly making a “yuck” face. Yes, writing a book involves labor, pushing, and regular screaming matches (my very own). And, like with childbirth, the entire painful process can feel worth-it and joyful when the book finally arrives (cue unboxing reel on Instagram), and the sharp agony of bringing it into the world fades in your memory.

But let’s be real, are you able to imagine someone telling Hemingway, “Mazel Tov on birthing a book baby”? My book didn’t come from my vag. Fairly than sperm and egg, it was born of many, many tears. And, also, love, but none of that makes it a baby. Creation and procreation are two different words. Can’t they be two various things?

the author with her book

The writer along with her book. Note the way it’s not a baby.

Eric Michael Pearson

Behind these labels everyone wants to put on me lies the belief that, as a girl, you might be incomplete and not using a maternal relationship to someone or something. Even for those who’re not a mother, our culture seems to say, you need to a minimum of be a mother figure. It’s as if a girl who doesn’t fulfill her maternal capabilities is sort of a automobile with no wheels, or a frog that may’t hop.

Recently, the conversation about women without kids has began to shift, with more celebrity women publicly saying they’re happily child-free. Still, it almost all the time comes with an apology, a “but” that insists the lady is a minimum of mom-adjacent: Tracee Ellis Ross is okay with not having children…but she loves being an aunt! Oprah doesn’t have kids…but the women she built a faculty for call her their mom!

Not this woman. For the record, I do not have pets. Or plants. Not even a succulent. I won’t offer to observe your kids. I don’t even feed people, because I don’t bake or cook, though I could make an honest mustard-shallot salad dressing. And I’m all good!

Tough Titties: On Living Your Best Life When You are the F-ing Worst

Tough Titties: On Living Your Best Life When You're the F-ing Worst

Tough Titties: On Living Your Best Life When You are the F-ing Worst

This must award honorary “mommy points” is, for those who ask me, something we’re still getting fallacious. Should you say, “I’m not a author and haven’t any desire to be one,” I won’t let you know, “Ah, but you might be a author…of…delicious dinners! Because once you cook a flank steak, you’re actually writing that cut of beef from the grill onto the plate and into my mouth. You’re the writer of flavors.” Should you say, “I’m not a ferryboat captain,” I promise to not say, “But have a look at all of the emotional waters you’ve ushered people across along with your wonderful life advice. You, my friend, are one HELL of a ferryboat captain.”

Why would I persuade you that you simply’re a author, ferryboat captain, gemologist, wrestler, or anything you tell me you are not and do not aim to be?

While the party line is that “you don’t know true love until you might have a toddler,” I’m deeply content with all of the love I even have in my life, which feels true enough for me. I like my family, my friends, my husband, our life together. And oh, how I like my free time, fiercely and unconditionally. You may even say, like a mother would. But please don’t.

Headshot of Laura Belgray


Laura Belgray is the founding father of talkingshrimp.com and co-creator of The Copy Cure with Marie Forleo. She has been featured in Fast Company, Money Magazine, Forbes, Vox, and Insider, and has written for Bravo, Fandango, FX, NBC, HBO, USA, Nick at Nite, Nickelodeon, TV Land, VH1, and more. Belgray lives in Recent York and, except for faculty, has never lived anywhere else. Her first book, Tough Titties: On Living Your Best Life When You’re the F’ing Worst comes out from Hachette June thirteenth.

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