A self-described “successful, professional woman in [her] early 30s,” who is “happily married with no children,” wrote to the Atlanta Black Star seeking advice on whether or not she’s being selfish by wanting to focus on her career instead of having a baby.
She and her husband have spent their free time “travelling the world, enjoying a true ‘young couple in love’ experience,” and she explains that it’s been “by design” that they’ve done so, before embarking on the next part of their lives— deciding to have a baby.
The woman wants to focus on her six-figure career instead of having a baby and her husband accused her of ‘tricking him’ into getting married.
She explained that their plan to expand their family hit a snag when she was offered a promotion at work, which came with a salary increase of over $30,000. She said, “I was elated! To see the fruits of my labour come full circle is gratifying, to say the least.”
She presented her husband with a “revised family-starter plan, sprinkled with all the luxuries we can continue to enjoy and some stats about more women having children later in life.”
But her husband didn’t share her sense of joy or accomplishment for being offered a major promotion.
Instead of supporting her, he called her selfish and “even accused me of tricking him into marrying me because I knew that he’d always wanted children, and if I don’t really want children, I should just say so.”
The woman offered context to her life story, saying that after her father’s death when she was 12 years old, her “stable home turned upside down.”
She promised herself “never to be in a position where I couldn’t maintain my lifestyle with or without a husband.”
After her husband’s accusation, she “lost control and accused him of trying to control me, trying to limit my potential and wanting me to depend on him solely— my childhood trauma came rushing back.”
“I am truly torn,” she stated. “I love my husband and absolutely want to have his children, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t equally enjoy the thrill of making well into six figures.” She described the feeling of being at a crossroads. Her husband wants a separation, she explained, “and I must decide if I want to risk losing my marriage or risk losing myself.”
Both the woman and her husband seem to have thrown harsh accusations at one another in the heat of an argument. Yet she’s not saying she doesn’t want to have kids; she just doesn’t want to have them quite yet, while her career is flourishing.
The one reader response below her heartfelt and conflicted letter was misguided at best and wholly misogynist at worst. “I think a well-educated woman like you should figure out how you can have both,” a reader named Hugh gave as his simplified take on her complex situation.
“Your husband is right in saying you are selfish,” he continued. “Frankly you have been deceiving him. No amount of money you save can get you ready for a child. Just do it.”
“You have a good husband, learn to make him happy,” Hugh ended his comment. “Get your family started and I bet you will be able to keep your career, too.”
Here’s the problem with Hugh’s hot take— women are actually financially punished for having kids if they’re able to retain their jobs.
In a report published in 2020, the Census Bureau stated that for women who continue working after giving birth, their “earnings fall by an average of $1,861 in the first quarter after birth relative to earnings pre-pregnancy or in early pregnancy.”
The Census Bureau also reported that “women who leave the labour force for at least one year after giving birth initially experience lower earnings when they return than those who take less time off.”
The wage gap for working moms has been called “the motherhood penalty,” and it’s only one part of how US society fails to support families.
While people like Hugh might think women can “have it all,” the reality is, American society is structured in a way that holds women to that standard, while systematically denying them the ability to actually do so.
There’s no simple answer for this one woman’s conundrum, yet one hopes she and her husband are able to communicate their emotional and literal needs to one another, and not blame the other for what seems like a misalignment of perceived life goals.
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