I don't feel maternal.
Starting the year as candidly as we mean to go on.
In an attempt to start the year as candidly as possible, I have a confession: I don’t feel maternal.
I feel some caring instincts toward creatures (like my cats) and very few babies, but I’ve also noticed that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more detached from any sort of maternal urge. Maybe it makes sense. I’ve noticed that any maternal feelings I may have once harbored have dwindled as I’ve gained more freedom and stability in other areas of my life, like my career, friendships, and finances.
I decided to ask my mum if she ever felt maternal before or after having my sister and me. She said she didn’t—and that she obviously loves being our mother—but she was never a “baby person.” She repeated that she was also in “no rush to become a grandmother,” which is a welcome respite in a world that I feel speaks to me (to us) very differently.
In the past, when I’ve explored these feelings with other women, I’m often met with the responses like “the switch will go off” and “don’t worry, you’ll start feeling it soon.” I’m skeptical, but maybe this mythical switch does exist and maybe someday I will pine for a child. I’m certainly not ruling out the possibility of having a family. I’m just questioning it. And is it so bad if the switch never goes off? If that’s the case, why does it feel like I would be failing my duty as a woman, despite reaching other (less gendered) milestones like starting a company or moving between countries?
Sometimes, my conversations about the prospect of motherhood are less flippant and can become tense, notably with women who have children. Let me be clear: I think women who choose to become mothers are incredible and they astound me every day. I am dumbfounded and inspired by the female reproductive system’s ability to even produce a child. It is SO COOL. I just don’t know if it’s for me (yet?). Ultimately, I think that for women to move forward in our modern society, all people (not just men), need to accept that different reproductive choices made by different women are equally acceptable. The fact that I don’t feel maternal, or even the eventual choice to not have children, doesn’t make me any less of a woman or a person. Isn’t it odd that we have to justify that?
Not to reference Sex and the City again (whatever, I’m going to reference Sex and the City again), but I recently rewatched the episode A Woman’s Right to Shoes and it feels very relevant to this exploration. In the episode, Carrie’s ($485) brand new Manolos get stolen at a baby shower. The host of the shower initially offers to replace the shoes, but then balks at their cost and suggests Carries does not have a “real life” because she isn’t married with children. Carrie realizes that the amount of money she’s spent over the years on the host’s universally recognized achievements (engagement! wedding! babies!) is ridiculous, so she registers herself at Manolo Blahnik in recognition of her just-announced marriage to herself. Carrie reasons that her lifestyle choices—her career, her friends, her shoes—are just as valid and important as the choice to get married and have children.
On the flip side, with infertility figures skyrocketing at an alarming rate and women everywhere delaying motherhood, I often wonder what would change if there were more financial and career safety nets that incentivize motherhood. Would my own feelings toward motherhood change if I knew my career wouldn’t change with it? Do I not feel maternal because I’m scared I might lose a part of myself that I’ve worked so hard to build up? I don’t know if these questions are right, but they’ve certainly crossed my mind.
Perhaps there’s solace in our shared experiences as women. Do you feel maternal? Have you questioned your maternal instinct? Did you once not feel maternal and it changed? I really want to talk about it, candidly, with people who sit on all sides of the table.
What gets lost when your identity becomes ‘Mom?’ What do you gain when your identity includes ‘Mom?’ What if, deep in your bones, you know that you never want to become a mom? This week kicks off our exploration into Motherhood & Identity, a mix of themes that’s as nuanced, complex, and complicated as us. From here on out, we’re hoping to get a real as we can about what women gain and lose when they become mothers, navigating friendship and motherhood, the myth of the ‘cool aunt,’ and much much more. Download the Diem app via Apple Store or Google Play.
What We’re Reading...
😡 The perpetual rage of motherhood. This essay is a nuanced and needed view into small and frequent “breaking points” that happen when you’re a mother, examined through several popular shows, movies, and books as of late. “The true mom rage we deserve to see: the small, everyday moments that don’t build up to anything specific, just a gradual erosion of the myth of the patient, doting mother.” (The Cut)
🤔 Where are the women investors and creators of NFTs? “I think that one of the biggest issues is that women and minorities are going to get left behind, yet again, when it comes to wealth creation at the earliest stages of a new asset class,” writes Julia Maltby. We should all care and be very concerned with the glaring lack of diversity in the NFT space. (Medium)
💫 The myth of the ‘cool aunt’ The ‘cool aunt’ is someone who adores her nieces and nephews. She’s trendy, travels a lot, is always dating someone new, and has fun stories that have the kids hanging onto her every word. There are lots of women who love being the cool aunt and that’s great! But what about the women who don’t want kids and don’t want to be the cool aunt? What should we think of the women who, in their choice to be child-free, mean it in every sense of the word? (The Power Outlet)
Who we're Dieming with...
To “Diem with” someone means to candidly exchange knowledge. Here’s who we are learning from (in the Diem app) this week.
Alice Jackson and Amy Fraser are Dieming on all things safety, gender-based harassment and violence. Alice is the co-founder of Strut Safe, an organization that walks you home at night. TODAY 1PM PT | 4PM ET | 9PM GMT, here.
Liana Pavane is sharing knowledge and tips for anxious daters – do you overanalyze or question your every move? Come join TODAY at 2PM PT | 5PM ET, here.
Dr. Laurie Mintz and Amy Fraser are Dieming about your entitlement to sexual pleasure. Need we say more? You need to listen. TODAY at 3PM PT | 6PM ET, here.
Mahasin Phillips and Amy Fraser are Dieming about the beauty of an intentional wellness routine. Tune in on SUNDAY at 1PM PT | 4PM ET, here.
Paula Goldstein and me(!) are Dieming about motherhood & identity. Join for a candid conversation on motherhood, maternal feelings and how your identity changes. MONDAY at 11AM PST | 2PM EST | 7PM GMT, here.
Courtney Spritzer, co-Host of Entreprenistas podcast & CEO at Socialfly will be sharing knowledge on entrepreneurship and the advice you need to hear. TUESDAY at 1PM PT | 4PM ET, here.
Krista Parry, COO at Crude, will be sharing knowledge on entrepreneurship & mamaging the marathon of life. TUESDAY 3PM PT | 6PM ET, here.
It’s good to be back. See you next week,