Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice
There are lots of associations made between non-motherhood and hedonism, perhaps fuelled mainly by representations of childfreedom in Sex and the City, where the chief benefits of not having children seem to be things like the opportunity to buy an awful lot of shoes and bags. I didn’t find those things particularly appealing in my teens or twenties and I certainly don’t find them any more so now.
So I’m wondering if there are others who share in my feeling that one of the nicest things about being a non-mother isn’t the opportunity to accumulate more stuff. It’s actually the opportunity to accumulate less.
For me, this is partly just an aesthetic thing. I like not having too much stuff around. But it’s also that I have ethical issues with materialism. I don’t want to contribute to landfill by having lots of disposable things, by which I don’t just mean unnecessary plastic packaging, but also things like clothes and homewares that are designed to be enjoyed for a month or two and then discarded as unfashionable and passé and replaced with whatever-the-new-thing-is. There also seems to be a strong connection between this kind of consumption and systems of production that I believe are unethical, mainly in terms of the human rights abuses often involved in cheap labour, perhaps most notably the abuse of child workers. I want no part in supporting that.
Given that I have only myself to please, I find it pretty easy to shop minimally and in places upholding ethics I’m happy to support – mainly a combination of locally produced and secondhand goods. But I wonder what it would be like if a child was involved. Would I constrain a child according to my own ethical beliefs about consumption, in ways that might exclude her or him from school-age fads that seem so often to involve cheap, disposable, plastic things, or from fitting in with peers by wearing whatever is in fashion that fortnight and then discarding it?
I hope and suspect that, had my life taken a different path, I’d have found ways of compromising. I know and admire quite a few women who work hard to honour environmental and ethical concerns while being sensitive to the roles that material things play in their children’s social lives and their rights to personal expression through clothing and personal possessions.
But overall, I think it’s funny that non-motherhood has become so strongly associated with having more stuff, when for me one of its perks is the opportunity to have less, without having to inflict your own beliefs, tastes and priorities on anybody else.
If you’re interested in reading more about the kinds of freedom involved in a life of non-motherhood, you might enjoy this post about the pleasures of deep sleep or this post celebrating a lifestyle that allows for spontaneity.
But in the meantime, how about you? In terms of materialism, do you tend to associate non-motherhood with having more or having less?
[The beautiful image above is presented with permission from Yataro.]