The moment you walk into a family gathering of mine, the perpetual screaming and whining is unlike anything else. A child. I was so familiar with this noise; the shrill that came from my cousin’s child, my own family. It still made me wince. I walked toward the kitchen and gave my most sincere form of, “Oh wow! She’s growing up so fast!” I leaned over to my mom and gave her a look that plainly said, “There’s no way I am having kids.” I talked with my cousins for several minutes about little Molly’s newest outfit and her latest play-date. My siblings and cousins were all beaming. As long as I can remember, I’ve never gotten along well with children. I never saw the point in having a minivan full of kids, because my desire to have a fruitful career was so much larger.
The expectation of having kids is different for every generation. My grandparents, who grew up in the Age of Conformity, were eager to start families; it was right after World War 2. “It was just the norm to buy a house and start a family. We craved simplicity,” said Diane Garnsey, 78. There were expectations that every couple met in the 1950s. Everyone expressed satisfaction in their lives; there were jobs and social security. However, about a decade later, the trend was changing, according to manythings.com. There were riots in the cities over The Vietnam War. The country was in social upheaval. As the norm for women switched from housewife to equal rights, the expectation to have children was lessened. Women joined the workforce. They no longer cared to be secretaries and receptionists. According to manythings.com, “Women felt there was more to life than having kids.” There was clear dissatisfaction with restrictive female roles in society. There was so little desire to be the mother of several children, because women had finally wanted freedom.
In the 1960s, the pill, a form of contraceptive was given to women. Many U.S. citizens were against the pill because it encouraged women to be promiscuous without the chance of reproduction. These arguments nonetheless sparked more riots in America. Women began demanding equal rights in the workplace, education, and in politics. Pop-culture also had a large effect on whether to stick to the status quo and have babies. The Beatles, a rock band from Liverpool, England, began spreading the phrase, “do your own thing.” And people did just that. These people were against traditional values, and encouraged others to promote personal freedom.
The stigma that came along with deciding to have children stemmed from the opportunity to have a career. Women in the 1960s were forced to choose one or the other. For the first time, women were given an option. Emily Schneider, 24, stated, “if a woman wants to be the primary caregiver to her children, being a senior level associate in a fortune 500 company should not be an option. I would not say it’s wise to try and have it all.” Many people would disagree with this. Such as Michelle Adams, 26, “I believe a woman can have it all. Whether that means having a whole bundle of kids as well as owning your own business. I think women, especially in this day and age, can make all those decisions and succeed.” A touching sentiment, but is it really possible? I had an interview with Elizabeth Garnsey, 43, a single mother and a teacher, “I am the only financial support system my son has. I had him through a sperm donor so there’s no other parent for him. I make a good living as a teacher, but it is incredibly hard work. I wish I didn’t have to be alone in this, but I have everything I want. Sometimes I feel absent in his life because there’s no one else in our home.” Luckily, Elizabeth has other family members who’re willing to help babysit her son, Charlie; he is about four years old.
Fortunately, for women, society has come a long way. Women have the right to choose to have a career, a child or both. I will be taking the path of no children. But to the women who are courageous enough to do both: I tip my Female Cap to you.