For the entire half hour or so I was in the hairdresser's chair, I eavesdropped as the women did the requisite chit chatting about their kids. Here's what is interesting. None of them - and I mean NOT ONE - had anything positive to say about their kids or about mothering - not even the slightest positive comment. The entire 30 minutes consisted of each woman complaining about their kids and about their duties as mom. Among other things, they complained about:
The fact that their young daughters (in one case, age 5) are already obsessed about getting sexy clothes.
The fact that teenaged girls dress like hookers and they have to fight their daughters to prevent them from dressing this way too.
The cost of the Wii one of them bought for her son and how he is playing with this thing obsessively and won't do his homework.
The fact that one's son has befriended girls on MySpace who all do the same pose (butt up in the air with dark lipstick on and puckered lips).
One complained about the crowd her teenaged son hangs with since a friend of his recently committed suicide.
One woman was in ecstacy simply because she was out getting her hair done and was finally away from her kids for 30 minutes.
Another one has a 23 year old stepson living with her who she put through college, but who is content to work at a bar and live at home.
So much for motherhood providing the ultimate joy and fulfillment in life.
And then, after all this evesdropping, my hairdresser asked me, "so, do you have kids?" to which I gave my usual reply of "yes, 3 boys.....my cats!" and she said, "me too". So I got to talking to her about this a little, trying to casually ascertain if she was childfree by choice, or just by circumstance. She told me "a little of both". She explained that she never wanted kids...ever. She always liked her life just the way it was and never saw any reason to mess it up by having kids. That is, until she turned 38. Then, suddenly she decided she wanted to have kids.
So I asked her "what was it that made you change your mind and suddenly want kids after never having wanted them before?" Her reply? "It was my age...I was getting near 40 and it was either do it now, or don't do it. I was afraid if I didn't have kids I would regret it later." I found this reply very interesting, and very telling. She didn't say she actually suddenly changed her mind and DESIRED children. Her change of mind appeared to have more to do with responding to the pressure of the motherhood mandate - the fact that women are expected to have kids. It was almost as though she had been putting off a dreaded assignment for years, the way a college kid puts off writing a term paper, and now the due date was upon her. It was simply surrendering to a perceived obligation (at least this was how I read her reply).
This, above all else, is what truly fascinates me...that women truly do not see this pressure for what it is...just a pressure, not a gun to their heads. It's a pressure that you can either cave in to, or you can simply say NO. Yes, it's as easy as that! It's like Nancy Reagan always said.
JUST. SAY. NO.
So my hairdresser tried to get pregnant for two years, but it didn't happen and she said she accepts it and says it just wasn't in the cards for her.
The look in her eyes betrayed her relief.