In an August 2013 TIME feature, “The Childfree Life: Having It All Without Having Children,” writer Lauren Sandler introduces a woman named Laura Scott. At age 14, Scott decided never to have children. She describes her mother as “bone tired,” working long hours while raising Scott and her brother. It was a lifestyle Scott didn’t want to mimic.
“My main motive not to have kids was that I loved my life the way it was,” Scott explains.
Now at 50, Scott is married, has enjoyed a career as an author and filmmaker — currently working on a documentary called Childless by Choice — and says she is “fulfilled.”
The piece then breezes past a parade of current and past celebrities who, too, claim to relish the childfree life.
“My songs are like my children — I expect them to support me when I’m old,” quips Dolly Parton.
“I had such a wonderful upbringing that I had a very high standard of how a mother and father should behave,” TIME quotes the late Katharine Hepburn. “I couldn’t be that way and carry on a movie career.”
Whether or not these quotes are taken out of context or meant to be facetious, they shed light on a popular tenet of motherhood — and personhood — today: personal choice.
If being a mother is something a woman wants, then by all means, she should pursue it. At all costs. In all quantities. When she wants it. How she wants it. And with whom she wants it. If, on the other hand, motherhood is not something she desires, then she should have the right to avoid it … or put a stop to it.
Still, the article points out, life is hard for a woman like Scott in a world that tends to “equate womanhood with motherhood.” The freedom to choose mother-less-ness doesn’t mean others won’t expect it of you.
Nor should they.