To My Daughter, Maybe

Dear Future Daughter,

I admit, it's a little bit strange of me to write a letter to you, not only because you don't exist yet, but because I'm not sure you'll ever exist. You see, future daughter, this letter comes from your 28-year-old not-a-mom who really isn't sure she ever wants to be a mom.

It's 2015 right now, future daughter, and the world today is a lot different than the world I grew up in. Sure, I'm part of the millennial generation; I admittedly wouldn't know how to function as an adult without the convenience of a tiny computer at my fingertips at all times. But I did function as a child without technology. My memories of my childhood consist of playing outside, climbing trees, roller blading through my neighborhood, shooting hoops in my driveway, throwing a baseball in the yard. And, as I'm sure every generation feels about the next one, I'm genuinely sad that you won't know the simplistic ideals I knew as a kid. Even if I limit your screen time, if I don't hand you an iPad every time you're bored in the car, if I sign you up for softball or take you out with me to run, I know it's inevitable that you'll come home from elementary school begging me for the iPhone your classmates have.

I was talking to your maybe-one-day grandparents recently, and they told me something that surprised me: my mom didn't want children before she had me. Don't take that the wrong way; my mom was the quintessential mom when I was growing up. She prioritized her kids over a career and did everything we could ever want a mom to do (maybe a little too much sometimes, actually). She fit into the mom role so well that I had no idea that, before she became a mom, she would pass on the opportunity to hold another person's baby, that she never dreamed of being a mom herself.

So why did she become a mom?

Because that's what people did.

And, future daughter, in that moment I realized how lucky I am to be in the same boat 30 years later. And how lucky you are that this is the world into which you'll come into existence.

Despite the things about this day and age that give me serious pause, like that parents post the play-by-play of their children's every move to Facebook or Instagram, or that girls in middle school are taking naked pictures of themselves and sending them to boys in their classes, there is one remarkable thing about the world today: you can truly do anything you want to do. No one knows that better than I do. As a fresh high school graduate, I started my college career in a male-dominated field, only to change my mind and go a different direction for the next 7 years, then change my mind again to move back into a world where men outnumber women (although that's changing all the time). And you want to know something, Future Daughter? I kind of rule at it. And by the time you make it into college and the workforce, the future will look even brighter for you than it does for me.

As unrecognizable as your world would be to my 7-year-old eyes, I have to tell you that there are so many ways in which I'm envious that you get to grow up in the 2020s and not the 1990s. Compared to my mother's generation, I've had so many more opportunities and doors opened for me, but you'll have even more than I did. No one will bat an eye when you want to get your black belt in karate or play football for you high school. They won't care that you want to learn to program like your talented father, or that you're the one explaining calculus to the boys in your class, or that you're the CEO of your own startup. They won't have a problem if you decide to become a mom yourself, and if so, whether you feel that your calling is at home with your children or out in the working world supporting them.

I don't know what your future will look like, Future Daughter. At this point I'm still not sure you'll ever exist. If you do, know that it's because I want you to be here. And if you don't, I have my reasons and I'm lucky enough to live in a world, a county, a generation, where it's my right - and no one else's - to make that choice for myself. I only want the same for you.

Love,
Your Mom

16 comments :

  1. Perfect! So true every word... I think about this sometimes and parts make me nervous and parts excited- thanks for sharing

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  2. I love this. Its so well written and perfectly conveys a lot of thoughts and feelings I have at times. I loved playing outside and making up games to keep myself occupied and I'm so sad when I see my little cousins just playing on the ipad or watching TV all day instead of playing outside. I'm sure whichever choice you make in the future will be the right one.

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  3. This is so great. It's terrifying to think of raising a child, much less a little girl, in the world today. It's so hard to let kids be kids these days. Such a great post! :)

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  4. TRACY THIS WAS SO GOOD. i had goosebumps the entire time reading it. I am right there with you.. kind of. working in energy has left me kind of jaded about what the future MIGHT look like and makes me scared for WTF the world is going to look like (energy wise) 20 years from now. but when i step back- i think our generation is going to be the one that figures it out. and i think we are going to figure so many other amazing things out that i need to quit it. the kind of part is that i am nearly sure that yes, i do want to be a mom someday. not soon. but someday. isn't it so fun that i can be in my late 20s and no one is batting an eye about it? just kidding, i know a few people are. and people who ask when you plan to start a family are insensitive and shitty.

    i loved this so much. i am going to re read this a few times because i loved it so much. i am always impressed with your writing. the closing lines made me tear up. you are one heck of a writer my friend! this was so good.

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  5. THIIIIIIIIIIIS!

    I'm not sure if I want to ever become a mother either, and this post was beautiful. Part of me wants to respond to every point you made, but the other part of me just wants to let this whole thing simmer inside me.

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  6. I definitely did not want kids. Ever. My mom was the same way, actually, and I knew that from an early age. But for both of us, meeting the right person really helped to change our minds. Not saying that this is always (or ever) the case for other women, it just so happened that way for my mom and I. Thinking about what a good dad my husband would be, and wanting to share that with him, definitely helped to change my mind.

    Yes, it is so so sooooooo scary raising a daughter in this day and age. Not a day goes by where I don't think "it would be so much easier if I could just lock her in the house for the rest of her life." But hopefully we'll raise her to make good decisions, and we'll be good examples for her on how to be loving, mature, responsible, hard working....the list goes on and on. I have to agree with Erin's comment though, that I think our generation is going to figure a lot out as far as sustainability for the next generation. And if we don't, they definitely will. Kids are so much smarter at an earlier age because of all the technology! We just have to encourage social skills and common sense to create well rounded little individuals, too.

    Ugh, being a parent is hard work and a lot of responsibility. Now that I've written you a book....

    PS: my daughter calls her Leappad and ipad, and does not know how to use our smartphones. I'm totally ok with that. She does, however, know about Facebook. Scary.

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  7. parenthood is a very humbling, eye-opening experience and it really makes you see the world for what it really is - big, scary, cut-throat and terrifying because now you have a little one in it and you have this over-whelming, fierce need to protect him or her.....which is why whenever someone asks me "how did you prepare yourself for kids?", i tell them that you will never be prepared because it's something that you can never prepare for.

    having kids is a very personal decision. people need to realize that not everyone wants kids and that's their right to decide. there is no right or wrong when it comes to having/not having kids! really, people need to mind their own bidness!!

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  8. I love this post! And I totally agree with you - change is always going to mean things lost or left behind, but it also means good things and new opportunities, and the next generations have a lot to look forward to, even if they won't experience their childhood the way we did.

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  9. i wish i had words to convey how much i love this post. just know, i really really really love it. i have no doubt you'd be an amazing mom and have an amazing daughter, if that's the path you choose. but i also know you'll rock at being not-a-mom as well, and seriously - how amazing is it that you have that choice and that it's totally normal and okay. i mean, sure there are some people who still think it's 'what people do' or whatever, but for the most part, i think it is perfectly acceptable, mainly because it's acceptable to yourself, you know what i mean? probably not because i'm rambling, which i tend to do. end comment. thumbs up.

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  10. I loved reading this because I mostly sat here nodding my head the entire way through this letter and sharing the same sentiments that you do. Just beautifully written!!! I fear for future generations, but I feel that perhaps our parents and grandparents felt the same way about ours, yes? I have to remind myself of that often.

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  11. I had goosebumps reading this whole thing. We've talked on this subject at length before and I'm sure we will in the future, so I'm not going to rehash that all here. I just want to say that I so very much love that you shared this post, and I agree with it whole-heartedly, and also? You do rule at what you do—all of it. <3

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  12. I absolutely LOVE this. I've never wanted children and I find myself having to explain the reasons to people allllllll the time. Why? It doesn't have to be for everyone. It's a decision that is unique to each person/couple and their situation/circumstances. What don't people get about that? It's not an automatic thing anymore!!!!!

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  13. All the hand-clap heart eye emojis go to you for this post. I absolutely LOVE it! What a beautiful thing this life is, for everyone! It's so great that we live in a country where were free to be whoever we want to be! :)

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  14. This was amazing to read, Tracy. Thanks so much for sharing it. I never wanted kids until I met my husband and he got me to come around -- we're still waiting a couple more years, though. I've been going back and forth to getting excited about the idea of being a mom one day and being COMPLETELY TERRIFIED to raise kids and you captured a lot of that here.

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  15. I love this!! I really do - raising children is no joke and having them is a personal choice! Love this!

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