I cannot count how many times I’ve been given the side eye, or had my sanity questioned, when I tell people I am a mother of six.
More often than not, the shade comes from other women of color more so than anybody else. Honestly, it is both disappointing that I am judged by my fertility, and annoying that I’m expected to defend my reproductive choices to others. We live in a society where so many women are fighting to have their voice heard, where women are fighting for their reproductive rights to be acknowledged, fighting for their rights to breastfeed their children in peace and have their periods without shame, yet I’m shamed for being blessed with fertility.
I didn’t enter into adulthood on a mission to populate the earth. As the oldest of five I’d had my share of changing dirty diapers and dealing with children, so I pretty much determined that I wouldn’t have children as an adult. Funny thing is, rarely does one end up sticking to the original plan for their life, and I’m no exception. I became a parent fairly young but I was mature enough to handle my business. At the age of 19, I was in the Air Force, and a new mother of a beautiful baby boy.
I admit it was a shock to my system, but it only made me more determined to do everything I had to do--to create the best life possible for my son. Fast-forward 11 years and by 31 I had given birth to six children, including a set of twins. Is it a lot to deal with? Yes, sometimes it is, but I’ve embraced the challenge, with the support of their father (who I’ve been with for 12 years), and the support of my family.
Still, whenever I’d become acquainted with other young women and the subject of children would come up, I would find myself dreading “the question.” It was as if my own community had forced me to feel embarrassed for having brought so many beautiful souls into this world. I was being judged by what was perceived as others to be too challenging, and deemed by strangers to have limited my potential as a woman somehow by having children. I finally had to realize that their problem with my choices was simply that, their problem!
The thing is, just like I shouldn’t be judged by the amount of children I have, I wouldn’t judge another woman’s choice to not have children. There is an unwritten rule in today's society that women are allowed two children; anything more is "too many," and if she doesn't have kids by a certain age, she finds herself questioned by strangers on whether or not she wants kids, and if she chose her career over motherhood.
I totally get that many women may not want the responsibility, and I’m all for anything that works for another. However, I will no longer defend my choice to others. I will no longer try to sugar coat my reality to make it appeasing to someone else.
[Tweet "I will no longer be shamed into believing my six beautiful gifts are a mistake."]
I can now proudly say yes, I am a mother of six beautiful children. I am also an educated woman with a degree and a rewarding career that is allowing me to mold the best life possible for my children.
My children do not want for anything, nor do they do without. I do not let the challenges that come with parenthood prevent me from accomplishing my goals, instead I find an element of motivation in every challenging experience, inspiring me to commit to doing great things, while also raising them in an environment where they never doubt if they are loved.
Benjamin Franklin was one of 17 children. Beethoven was one of seven, and JFK was one of nine! Every child has the potential to do something great in the world. So please, give the mother of these children the support and encouragement she needs whether it is her first child or her ninth. Because your last child deserves just as much excitement as your first.
Finally, to all the skeptics out there about MY choices, please, get out of my uterus and focus on your own!
Have you ever been shamed for your personal decisions with your body? Share below!