“For me, the most important ability in life is choice.”

Charlotte, 37, USA

When I was young, the only mothering I cared about was taking care of animals. As a child, people notice any kind of nurturing behavior and project that you’ll be a great parent – of a human. But I knew at that age – and frankly my entire life – that I did not have a desire to bear children, to raise kids, or to be a mother, in the traditional sense.

Part of this understanding, for me, was driven by other aspects of my life. My friendships fulfilled me, my work fulfilled me, and my advocacy fulfilled me. The more I grew into myself, the more centered I felt pouring energy, time and passion into the things that lit me up.

After I got married, the pressure on procreating intensified. The questions weren’t, “are you having kids,” but, “when are you having kids,” and, “how many kids do you want,” in addition to statements like, “you’ll make such cute kids,” and, “you’re going to be a great mother.” The more confident I became in expressing my desire to choose myself, the more twisted the comments became. Frequent queries included, “but you’ll never experience the greatest love possible,” and, “who is going to take care of you when you get old?”

For me, the most important ability in life is choice. Take away that choice, or imply that someone’s making the wrong choice, and you remove someone’s autonomy – their right to their mind and their body. You are saying to them: you are not in control. I believe that claiming the right to choose is standing in the face of that rhetoric and saying: “I am enough.”

Existing on our own terms allows us to focus on what brings us joy, and in turn, how we can best bring joy into the world. This ability is what I wish for everyone, no matter if you want to be a mother, or not.