Maybe I am just perverse, but it seems that my whole life my desires and propensities have rarely matched up with societal expectations, whether as a child or as a woman. My personal experience being unable to relate to how I was expected to feel is one reason that I am suspicious of blanket pronouncements about what is best for the children or what women really want. These pronouncements simply aren't true in every case. Consider:
AGE 3 - I desperately want to go to nursery school. My stay-at-home mother doesn't necessarily want me to go, but she finally got sick of my begging and gave in. I finally got to start going to school the year before kindergarten. I was thrilled to have some place to go every day and to be interacting with other kids.
AGE 7 - This is about the time I started praying for my parents to divorce. I was cognizant of the fact that a divorce would change our lifestyle. I knew that we wouldn't have as much money and that my mother would have to go back to work. I knew world travel and boarding school might no longer be possibilities if my father were out of the picture. But to me divorce was still my ultimate fantasy. Imagine my horror when my father confided in me years later that my mother had stayed in the marriage primarily for my sake. Gaaaah. I can't bear to tell her now -- so long after the fact -- that the best thing she could have done as a mother would have been to get the hell out of Dodge.
AGE 10 -- My mother re-enters the work force. I become a "latchkey kid." I am thrilled. Sure, I miss my mother in the afternoons, but I believed that having her own income would give her more power in our home. I also hoped that it might be the first step towards that divorce I wanted.
ADULTHOOD -- My experience with pre-marital sex, although it was part of an unhappy relationship with a sexist man, was primarily positive. I didn't feel that sleeping with a man on the first date was somehow degrading to me (it takes two to tango after all) or that every sexual experience had to be about "true love."
ADULTHOOD -- I have yet to experience any kind of particular yearning for marriage or children. Although I did in fact get married young (because the circumstances were right), marriage had never been something I had fantasized about or yearned for. My feelings about babies are the same. I am not necessarily averse to having children if the circumstances are right, but it is not something that I view as essential or that I have any kind of deep longing for. I am one of those "childless by default" women, but I don't necessarily view that as a bad thing.