The last post of 2013 predicted that the growing presence of women without children would be a recurring headline in 2014. Just 3 days into the New Year, I opened my iPad to find this:
“In Terms of Childlessness,U.S. Ranks Near the Top Worldwide”
I’m starting the New Year in a Long Island Medium frame of mind. Needless to say, it feels really weird.
The source for this particular story is Pew Research Center, but it’s the United Nations that kicked off the month with the release of the 2012 World Fertility Report. The fact that childlessness is up around the world is old news, though the report lists its #1 finding: “Fertility has declined worldwide to unprecedented levels since the 1970s.”
Pew hopped over that factoid to focus on the UN’s revelation that among 118 locations with comparable data around the globe, only six beat the U.S. for the most women without kids at the end of their childbearing years. Singapore ranks first (23%), followed by Austria, the U.K., Finland, Bahrain, and Canada.
This is going sound bizarre, I know, but I see similarities between this development and the fact that because of the size of the boomer generation, more women are currently sweating their way through menopause than ever before. When I start fanning myself in a public place, it’s rare NOT to have a woman I don’t know launch into her menopause story. I remember the elder women in my family who referred to “The Change” only occasionally, and always in the privacy of home. Back then, the word couldn’t be said on TV, and now there’s commercials about it.
I can’t imagine having to pretend that I’m not burning up from the inside out for decency’s sake. To me, it’s a blessing to know that women all around me, even younger ones, understand the experience and accept it and me as we are. The recurring headlines about NotMoms hint that before long, a new crop of young women will find acceptance easily and everywhere, with children or without.