### The Ultimate Decision: To Parent or Not to Parent

I recently discovered the emerging industry focused on coaching women regarding the decision of whether or not to have children. Sometimes, I envision these coaches with their tea and tissues, cheerfully creating flowcharts, perhaps calculating the projected longevity of the NHS or the potential challenges our planet may face in the next few decades. They may also delve into the appeal of coordinating “mummy and me” outfits from Zara, among other considerations, before providing the client with guidance—a permission to pursue a particular path in life.

It intrigues me how we are led to believe that there exists a definitive answer to this relatively new and complex question. This complexity is further compounded by economic uncertainties juxtaposed with advancements in fertility science. I find it frustrating that there seems to be a lack of curiosity and a tendency to oversimplify matters related to motherhood. The emergence of choice-coaching services coincides with ongoing discussions about the narratives surrounding motherhood, notably sparked by a Vox article titled “How millennials learned to dread motherhood: to our generation, being a mom looks thankless, exhausting, and lonely. Can we change the story?” This discourse resonated within my online community of women aged 30 to 50, characterized by confidence, thirst for change, cynicism, and eagerness. Despite my usual engagement in debates on motherhood politics, this particular conversation left me indifferent.

Prior to becoming a mother at the age of 33, I was blissfully unaware of parenting literature or media content. When I eventually shared my experiences through writing and conversations, I did so with a sense of pioneering spirit, as if I were the first mother on Earth. This approach, I believe, was necessary to convey the multitude of emotions associated with motherhood honestly, including love, ambivalence, joy, and regret, without shame. Although initially met with criticism, over time, it became more acceptable, partly due to increased opportunities for women to share unfiltered aspects of motherhood, reactions to overly idealized portrayals, and the inherent allure of darker narratives.

The reality is that motherhood is not monolithic—it encompasses thanklessness, exhaustion, and loneliness, as well as profundity, delight, and enrichment, often coexisting within a single moment. It is a reflection of real life. I am continually surprised by the reluctance of intelligent individuals to acknowledge this complexity, especially when such oversights breed division and isolation. Blaming the discussions on parenting issues instead of addressing the lack of necessary support, both economically and emotionally, is regressive and exasperating. The infantilization of the discourse surrounding motherhood is particularly disheartening to me.

The decision of whether to have a baby is laden with complexities and uncertainties. How does one navigate the coaching process, with its spreadsheets and contemplations? Are you prepared for a life filled with care, responsibility, judgment, privilege, and pain? Can you reconcile the potential challenges, sacrifices, and rewards that parenthood may bring? It’s a decision intertwined with uncertainties—what if scenarios that encompass a spectrum of possibilities, from personal struggles to societal expectations. The choice to have a child is profound and multifaceted, influenced by a myriad of factors, including societal norms, personal desires, and unforeseen circumstances.

Ultimately, there is no definitive answer, only a blend of wishful thinking, chance, and the constant reminder that life offers a multitude of paths. Each choice comes with its own set of complexities, emotions, and consequences. Despite the prevailing narratives, the decision to have a baby is far from straightforward. As we embark on this journey, we are confronted with a range of conflicting emotions, uncertainties, desires, losses, and joys. In the end, we all enter this world crying, a bit bruised, contemplating the myriad possibilities that lie ahead.

For further correspondence, you can reach out to Eva via email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @EvaWiseman_.