May 3, 2021

Women Who Said No to Motherhood

By Mary Katharine Tramontana

1,970 words

A photographer in Berlin is capturing the lives of the consciously child-free.

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May 13, 2021 at 5:51 am CHANGED
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  To be able to change your mind at a moment’s notice. To be free to develop yourself as a person, and not as a mother — that’s been great. I’m shocked that women still do the majority of child care. When people ask, “When are you going to have kids?” they can’t handle your freedom. If a woman is tied down with a bunch of kids, she can’t make too much trouble. They want you to be on their level, but don’t have the courage to say it. Men admit it when they check out and leave.
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  People think that women without kids will die alone. Actually, there’s no guarantee that your children will care for you when you’re old. And nuclear families are claustrophobic. This “us against the world” thing leads to that American individualism where you have your little biological pod and everyone else be damned. I think “Golden Girls” is a pretty good alternative model to that.
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- A lot of people invent explanations and say, “Oh, you’re single.” Actually, I just happen to be single at the moment. When I travel to developing nations people ask, “Why aren’t you a mother?” I say, “I’m an auntie.” (When my cousin’s kid turned 13, I introduced them to David Bowie; I get to be the cool aunt.) I’ve also had moms care for me and include me. One woman sidled up to me at a ceremony in Kenya and said, “I wish I didn’t have to have them.” And once, on safari, I overheard a mother say to her daughter as I walked by, “There goes one independent woman.”
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+ A lot of people invent explanations and say, “Oh, you’re single.” Actually, I just happen to be single at the moment. When I travel to developing nations people ask, “Why aren’t you a mother?” I say, “I’m an auntie.” (When my cousin’s kid turned 13, I introduced them to David Bowie; I get to be the cool aunt.) I’ve also had moms care for me and include me. One woman sidled up to me at a ceremony in Kenya and said, “I wish I didn’t have to have them.” And once, on safari, I overheard a mother say to her daughter as I walked by, “There goes one independent woman.”
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+ In Her Words is available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox. Write to us at inherwords@nytimes.com.
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+ Mary Katharine Tramontana writes about culture and sexual politics. You can find her on Twitter at @MKTramontana, or Instagram at @marykatharinetramontana. She lives in Berlin.

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  • Women Who Said No to Motherhood

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  • Content Type: Personal Profile
  • Parenting
  • Photography
  • Reproduction (Biological)
  • Social Conditions and Trends
  • Women and Girls