Trying to please our loved ones is one of the hardest things some of us will ever do.
It's particularly difficult when our loved one wants something from us that we don't want for ourselves.
What are we supposed to do then?
Reddit user "grandbabyfabricator," a 33-year-old woman who is happily married, with a home and multiple pets, is currently facing this question. Though she doubts she will give in to her mother's wishes, she wonders what it says about her.
She shared her thoughts in the "Am I the A$$hole?" subReddit, curious to see others' reactions to the situation.
She begins by saying that while her situation is stable, her mother isn't so fortunate.
"33F, married, financially stable and happy with a couple cats and a senior dog"
"My mother (67 F) is a cancer survivor and was recently diagnosed with another, more aggressive form of tumor. Considering her history with treatment, the prognosis isn't good."
They also have a difficult relationship and share significant differences of opinion.
"She and I aren't close. She has untreated mental health issues (I suspect BPD) that made my life hell growing up, and even in my adult years she's often tried to control my life to make it more like hers. One thing we've always disagreed on is the topic of babies."
"My mother loves babies (but not children, who have opinions) and has desperately wanted to be a grandmother from the moment she found out she was having a daughter. Unfortunately for her, I'm childfree. I like kids. I even work with babies, and I'm good with them. But I've never wanted one, and I'm an only child."
But she tries to stay involved in her mother's life, even if it means facing outlandish requests.
"I called her after the diagnosis came in to check on her, and - in tears - she declared that now is the time that I have to give her a grandbaby. The doctor is giving her about a year to live, perfect timing if I get pregnant now apparently. She says this is the only thing that would make her feel better about dying."
"As usual, I said no. I don't want a kid. My spouse doesn't want a kid. That's it."
The people around her aren't making it easy for her, though.
"Now, several of my mother's friends, who in the past had supported my decision, are calling me up to say I'm TA for refusing her dying wish. They're pointing out that my spouse and I could afford a child (true) and that we already have more space in our home than we need (sort of true), and therefore the only thing that's stopping me from popping out an infant in 9 months is, in their opinion, that I'm a horrible selfish child."
But she doesn't want to let the pressure get in the way of her happy life.
"To be clear, I'm not going to change my mind. A lot of factors have gone into my decision not to have babies, and a few old people calling me a self-absorbed b***h won't change that, but I'll admit that perhaps I am, in fact, a self-absorbed b***h."
"What say you, reddit?"
Reddit was quick to reply, unanimously siding with her.
They cited her body autonomy and life-long commitment to not having children, as well as her mother's potential motivations to run her life. Not to mention the delicate situation she would be in as a pregnant woman during a pandemic.
"NTA. You're really mature, responsible and smart to not have a child to appease another person. A child is not a toy that you can return once your mother got her few moments to coo over it. You'd be responsible for that child for at least two decades, and if you don't want a child, it would be crazy to take on that responsibility because your mother wants you to." - Cocoasneeze
"I have kids and have encouraged them to adopt if they feel the urge of having children. My niece just adopted twins and is loving life." - Dalebssr
"Just tell her 'ok we will try' and continue with life as normal. She will be dead soon anyways." - t4mpon
"D**n this is cold, I laughed pretty hard though." - lizlemon04
"I'm still dumbfounded every time I read a story where a parent is demanding a grandchild, I get that you want a grandchild but it was your choice to have a kid(hopefully), it is also your child's choice whether they have kids or not(hopefully)" - AppletonSF
"NTA I have--nor ever will--understand why people pressure others to have children when they know that they know they don't want one. I admire people who KNOW they want to be childless. Good on you for knowing, and double-good on you for setting boundaries." - BrownBirdDiaries
While it's perfectly okay to want to see the family grow and to want grandchildren, the consensus is that it's never okay to pressure a woman in the family into bearing children.
Holding a baby or watching a child grow is a fleeting, though memorable, experience that should not be the only reason for having children.
Though it might be nice to make her mother happy, it also feels unfair for the mother to pressure her by pegging this very important decision as her dying wish.
The book What?! You Don't Want Children?: Understanding Rejection in the Childfree Lifestyle is available here.