The most important issue facing modern feminists in today’s Easy-Squeeze, public bathroom, instant timer world is whether or not women have already had children, and if so where they saw them last. It’s hard enough trying to balance a career with the children you can find inside of your house. Women shouldn’t have to balance work, play, and a family they can’t remember if they have or not.
Have I given birth to anyone? Do I have a life partner, and if so, did the two or more of us decide to adopt? These are real questions that every woman has to ask in her lifetime. It’s time we stopped being embarrassed about it.
Sometimes women find themselves juggling a career, a husband, and trying to figure out whether the children they’re with are part of their family, someone they’re babysitting, or just standing near them. I know I’m not the only one among us who’s stopped dead in her tracks in the park and whispered in terror to herself: whose hand am I holding?
Sometimes I see children in airports. Is one of them mine? There’s really no way to know. You’ll just know, other women reassure me. And sometimes I think I do, but then some other woman starts screaming at me when I start to wheel the stroller, so I’m not really sure I can trust my own instincts.
Sure, there are Cheerios in the cupholder. That’s a clue. But are they from a child? Or are they mine? Adults should be allowed to eat Cheerios and maybe have children if they want to, I think.
Are my dogs my children? Do I have dogs? I can’t be expected to remember all of these things. I’m not Superwoman.
“You’ll change your mind when you get older,” people told me. Did I? Some people aren’t physically capable of bearing children. Others aren’t financially or personally equipped to adopt. I wonder if I’m one of them.
Did I decide to have a biological family? Or did I decide to take control of my own body and rent out my uterus as a storage unit for a growing small business?
Have I found a husband? Did I settle for Mr. Right Now because my biological clock started ticking, or am I in a multigenerational polyamorous cuddle collective? I tried looking through my wallet, but there aren’t really any clues in there.
It’s really a money issue. Paying for childcare, saving for college, re-entering the workplace: Heaven help the woman who fills out a health insurance application and writes “I’m not sure” under “Children.”
Let’s not forget, too, about the women who get mommy-tracked: plucked from their own homes in the dead of night, taken to Indianapolis, and forced to join up with a gang of helmeted mothers-only speed racers and detectives on the hot-rod circuit.
It’s okay if you don’t want to have children, either. I might not have. It’s entirely possible that long ago I made the deeply personal decision not to become a mother, and to a lesser extent, a father. I just hope I made that decision before I had children.
If I chose to stay at home and raise my children personally, that’s my decision. I wonder if I made it. Many women are asking themselves that question right now. It’s not just me. Many women are wandering aimlessly through the rooms of their house, trying to see if there are children in them. If you have children in your home, that’s a big clue.
Also, the biggest problem facing feminism today is when I can’t remember where I parked my car. How are we supposed to get anywhere if I can’t find my car?
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.