Quoted: Andrea (AJ) Plaid On Being A Black Woman, Middle Age, Stats, And Reproductive Justice

So, you may wonder why I still care about abortion when my story isn’t statistically reflected.

Though I’m not in the numbers, I’m in the reasons why some Black [child-bearing people] seek the procedure, and why quite a few cis women — in solidarity with [some] trans men, trans women and non-binary people of many races and ethnicities — fight so hard to keep it legal.

My mother did an excellent job of both encouraging me to get my education and discouraging me from having children while I was a teenager. My mom failed to convince me in my 20s and 30s to “have children.” My co-workers failed, too. The rare co-worker nowadays still tries to talk me into it — and yes, even my mom still tries — appealing to some notion of an impending spinsterhood if I don’t essentially create my future caregiver and “someone who’ll love me.” As I had to remind Mom, having children is, essentially, a crap shoot as far as their “loving you” and you “loving them”: how many stories have we heard of people who give birth but who don’t form that “nurturing instinct” with their newborns? How many stories have we heard about children disowning and getting disowned by parents, let alone loving you enough to want to take care of you in your old age? (The resentment and burnout of grown children taking care of elderly parents are real.)

My long-held reason, I tell them all, is that I simply do not like children enough to gestate or adopt and rear one (or two or more). I don’t have the patience to provide that long-term emotional support and don’t wish to share my material resources with a child. This is very much in line with a study cited by the Guttmacher Institute in August, 2011: “The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.”

Now that I’m entering the middle part of my life, a colleague summed up my new viewpoint about [having] children: “She’s not just running down her biological clock. She’s taking the clock and throwing off the Empire State Building.”

Excerpted from “Heading Toward Menopause, Still Caring About Abortion,” On The Issues 

Photo Credit: caribdirect.com

  • Anonymous

    Good for you! Stay true to yourself. Motherhood has been, for me, a mixed bag of good and sometimes not-so-good. Same for marriage. But, I would never assume any of  it is for everyone, or ever tell anyone else to do it. These are personal decisions. I did not carry to term my first pregnancy, and opted for an abortion instead because I was just starting my dissertation and the father of the child was adamant that he did not want to be a father again. It was sad, but life isn’t always rainbows and lollipops. 

    Doubts are what we have when we need to think things through more thoroughly.

  • J.

    Side note: That picture is of actress Shanola Hampton. Her face is well known enough that people might get confused and think she wrote the article. I did, at first.

  • Erica

    I wish there was more honesty about the idea that motherhood is not always cheerful rainbows and happiness. Thank you for writing this.

    I’ve got kids and am lucky enough that we all like each other (so far — they aren’t teenagers yet…). But I’m incredibly distant from my own mother. She drives me up the wall, and I’m fairly sure I confuse, annoy, and frustrate her right back. There’s never a guarantee of filial love, even if you do everything right and love and care for that child to the best of your abilities. I find the idea that pregnancy is an investment in your “twilight years,” a way to create somebody who loves you unconditionally, almost creepy. I don’t think the choice to create a human being should be quite so selfish. Nor do I think it’s helpful to anybody (prospective mothers or hypothetical offspring) to ignore the risks that it just isn’t going to be all that awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/galiotica Nejasna ちゃん

    Fear of being alone or not loved/cared for is a crap reason for buying a pet, let alone bringing another human life into this world. 

  • WCer

    I guess I live in the wrong part of the country. The only messages I get from friends and acquaintances here, and the community in general, is that having children is selfish and outdated and that having a family, much less kids, is a tedious, joyless drag that offers zero benefits that only therapy can fix. 

  • Kate

    Hmm well, I remember talking with my mom about it and it got down to “I don’t like relying on chance, life have enough of the things that are beyond my control already”. I prefer not to do things I would probably screw up to doing a bad job and breaking somebody else’s life.

  • Eva

    This is a great article.  Thank you for saying that having children is a crap shoot.  In fact, marriage is a crap shoot as well.  People have this fantasy image of what marriage and having children is like and when reality hits they can’t deal; hence lots of problems and years of therapy.

    • Anonymous

      Eva–from you, that’s high praise! Thanks so much for the compliment! And thank you for saying marriage is a crap shoot as well. Some things just need to be said. 

      I’ve always felt that way about having kids, that they’re not guaranteed to be the ones who’ll love you when “there’s no one else” or that they’re going to embrace the role of caregiver–or, really, that I will love them. But when I said this to those people trying to tell me these and other reasons why I should have a child, they looked at me as if I spoke to them in hieroglyphics. 

      (N.B. Before folks start jumping on this thread to ‘splain to me that hieroglyphics “isn’t spoken” and go into a dissertation on which language(s) and dialect(s) ancient Egyptians actually did speak… ::inhale:: I know. And that’s not the point of my comment to Eva. Please keep reading.:-))

      Then I happened to catch an interview with one of my all-time fave actors, Tilda Swinton, at NYT’s website. (Unfortunately, there’s no transcript, but the written interview contains the same answer.) She almost says what I’ve been saying about the realities that every person who births a child (she uses the terms “woman” and “women”) with the intention to rear the child doesn’t feel that “bond of love” and that phenomenon is quite common. But, she said, it’s so rarely talked about in favor of blaming/shaming those who feel that way.

      • Eva

        Well yes, marriage is a crap shoot.  I mean, two women go to a dance; one meets the man of her dreams, the other meets the man of her nightmares.  Why?  Don’t know and neither does anybody else.  It’s random.