I read this morning Loribeth's post about Emotional Labour and Childless Women.
I just love her list:
- If women's time is considered less valuable than men's, childless women's time is devalued even more so. For example, there is an expectation that we will cheerfully pitch in to cover for parenting coworkers who need to stay home with a sick child or leave early to attend their child's school event. Our own requests for flexibility are often deemed less important or "legitimate".
- In the same vein, there's an expectation that childless women will be available to care for aging parents, help them with errands and take them to appointments, more so than our siblings with children (even if they live closer to Mom & Dad than we do).
- Parents assume that, because we don't have children, we have a lot of discretionary income to spend as we please.
- We are expected to show interest in the children of our siblings, friends and relatives, and to listen attentively and sympathetically to parents' problems and stories about their children -- while our own interests and problems are often dismissed as less worthy of attention or ignored completely.
- We are expected to defer to parents in all matters related to children, even if we have our own knowledge and experiences to guide us and to share (e.g., childless teachers are often told they don't know anything about children, even though they spend the entire day a room full of them, 9 months a year, year after year).
- Parents expect us to attend gender reveal parties, baby showers, christenings, first communions, confirmations, graduations, weddings and birthday parties to celebrate their children and the milestone events in their lives (oh yeah, and bring gifts!). Yet our own birthdays or other milestones are not always marked or celebrated in the same way.
- If we decline invitations to these events or fail to show sufficient enthusiasm for them, we are expected to provide explanations and/or made to feel like something is wrong with us.
- We are expected to justify our decision to continue living without children, while parents are rarely expected to justify why they decided to have children. Similarly, we are expected to explain why we didn't pursue this or that path to parenthood ("Have you thought about adoption? surrogacy? donor eggs?") -- even within the infertility community, where childless living (still) remains an unacceptable outcome for many pursuing treatment or adoption.