My conversation with my new coworker today greatly irritated me because I let him goad me into a conversation that was both stupid and pointless to get into. I don't remember what the original topic was anymore, but at some point he said something along the lines of 'children are so awesome' and after noticing my bland expression, asked, "You don't like children?"
Me: "No. Not really."
Dude: "So you don't want kids?"
Me: "Meh, not really.
Dude: "Whaaaaaaaat?! I've never met anyone who didn't want to have children!"
Me: "There are lots of women, my age and older, who don't want children."
Dude: "Really? Is it a phase?"
Me: "Wtf? No! Puberty is a phase."
Dude: "So I have a question for you, 'What is the most important role of a woman?'"
Me (deadpan): "Who cares? I don't."
Dude (quoting): "'A mother.' That's what Miss XYZ from NoOneCares Pageant said."
Me: "Uh. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Am I supposed to listen to a chick in a tiara for wisdom? She probably spends more money on make-up and dresses than a poor person in Africa earns in a lifetime. Oh my goodness."
I walked away, otherwise I might have said something obscene. If I had been a bit wittier, I would have shot back with a snark like, "More important than cooking dinner barefoot in the kitchen for my husband?"
I don't look down on motherhood. Mothers are important. Seeing mothers interact with their kiddies gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that I just have no interest in duplicating for myself. And I have worked with kids, so I don't avoid them like the plague. Little kids can be cute and fun to talk to, but I enjoy giving them back to their parents. Typically, I experience a bigger reaction seeing puppies and other baby animals. I almost cried watching an episode of "Too Cute" on Animal Planet because there were puppies. PUPPIES.
What bothers me the most is when people equate being a woman to being a mother first and foremost. I don't want the respect of a person who thinks that way. My value is not measured in terms of how much mileage I get out of my lady parts, and if they develop metaphorical cobwebs from lack of use, then so be it. I'm not superior or inferior to a stay-at-home-mom or a working mom. Moreover, people shouldn't be compared in that way.
I also hate it when people like my coworker treat this conscious decision as a "phase" that I will someday "outgrow," like how "being a rebellious teenager" is a phase, or a "mid-life crisis" is a phase. IF I change, and that's a biiiig IF, it's not because I suddenly matured and saw the light, it's because my values and goals in life changed. I'm not broken, I'm not "just still a young girl." I don't see the purpose in belittling a free-thinking, reasonably well-educated, adult woman's principles, even if she is young.
I think Coworker Dude's opinions stemmed from cultural and religious differences in his upbringing. I can accept differences, and I can accept people asking me about my reasoning behind my beliefs and opinions, but his tone of questioning ticked me off and I let it get under my skin. I miss my old coworkers. They seemed more capable of...discourse. All four (or was it five?) of them quit in a two-month span. I'll stick to talking to my patients at the senior home. They're less judge-y and super hilarious.