The single most important decision a woman (yes a woman - sorry guys but it just isn't the same for you) can make is whether or not to have a child. Read that again - notice I did not say that having a child is the most important thing a woman man will ever do. Because I do not believe that. But the decision itself places a woman on one path versus the other. It literally changes, no, forever alters, the trajectory of her life. As much as we want to think that we can "do it all" and "have it all" - we can't and it is irresponsible, even self destructive, for us to think we can, whether we have children or not.
Among women that are contemplating having or not having children there is the recurring theme of "regret." "Will I get to the end of my life and regret not having children?" Does it matter? If you live your life the right way there should be a heaping pile of things you regret, a big list of things you never got the chance to do. Those piles have to be big, those lists have to be long - if they are not then you never fully embraced the possibilities and opportunities that abound. If you get to the end and somehow convince yourself that you "did it all" I'm sorry but you are kidding yourself...or your bucket list sucked. If you get to the end without regrets you didn't try hard enough. If you get to the end without enemies then you probably never stood up for anything either. In that case who cares if you had kids or not?
There are two main paths in life for a woman - one with children and one without. And each is peppered with feelings of happiness and joy and pain and loneliness and, yes, regret. There are plenty of "couldas" and "shouldas" on both paths. Plenty of time will be spent envying women on the other path but most of the time you will not be able to imagine your life on any path but the one you are on. It's your path. No one else's.
I once had a friend say to me "Isn't being a mother the most wonderful thing in the world?" I paused and thought "Seriously? I want to blow my brains out most of the time." So I forced a smile and said "Oh isn't it just great?" Bleh - I was faking it and, honestly, she probably was too. You see there is this strange competition among mothers - no one talks about it so this is all on deep background. We are all trying to see who can make it look effortless. It's not. Anyone who does make it look effortless is medicated, heavily.
Is this where I have to say that I love my children and can't imagine my life without them? I love them. They make me crazy. And no I can't imagine my life without them - primarily because I can't remember my life without them. So there, in case you were about to call child protective services.
When are we going to stop thinking that women were put here to reproduce? And for God's sake when are the mommies going to stop making women without children feel like they are missing out on "the best thing that could ever happen to them?" What, if you don't have kids then, sorry! No best thing ever for you! Bullshit. Small aspirations from small-minded people. If I have children am I now prohibited from searching for the best thing that will ever happen to me - does it have to be my children? If I keep searching for things that make me happy and make me feel fulfilled does that mean I don't love my children? If I happen to go on to cure cancer do I still have to say that my children are my greatest accomplishment in order to satisfy some silly Mommy archetype? That is flawed and holds us all back.
So here is the big reveal. Motherhood is not, and never was, the answer to anything. Don't think a child is going to give your life meaning. You give your life meaning and purpose. Never stop looking for all the greatest things that will ever happen to you - collect as many as you possibly can.