One can only imagine how the life of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, has changed since the Fame Monster rocked her world. In her latest book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, she shares thoughts about childless women, herself and others:
“Maybe it’s not only legitimate for certain women to never reproduce. It’s necessary. It’s as though, as a species, we need an abundance of responsible, compassionate childless women to support the wider community in various ways. Childbearing and child rearing consume so much energy that the women who do become mothers quickly become swallowed up by that daunting task — if not outright killed by it.”
Anyone who says she doesn’t know a woman who’s been swallowed up by motherhood hasn’t been paying attention. I know some women who went away willingly to Mommyland, and others who fought it every step of the way. Parenthood by its nature puts grown-up time at a premium, and when it comes to visits to friends’ houses, life is easier when those friends have kids, too. I get that.
In my sphere, many of the mommies I know already have kids in college, packing to go or already graduated. It’s clear that some of those women are going to stay crazy with an empty nest, but most are successfully rebuilding their own lives. Time changes us all, and friendships of any kind are treasured.
I can’t help but wonder, though. Who will be able to hold their own even after the arrival of the first grandchild? Who will be swallowed up again?