We have been taught a myth about motherhood that all mothers cherish their children. Our intellects and our eyes say this isn't true, but the horror of admitting the deception is too great for many minds to bear. There are many cultures that force motherhood on women as the only way to survive. Having a child to protect oneself is unfair to both mother and child.
It is natural animal instinct to be drawn toward creating more animals like ourselves, but the human intellect can push back against pure animal instinct. A child is not to be born to replicate oneself; a child is to be born protected and encouraged to become the most fully human animal that he or she is meant to be. The nurturing of a child begins before conception. The egg and the sperm must be taken care of in order to produce healthy offspring. Sadly, we don't teach this to our young.
In my religious tradition, I was taught that my body was a temple of The Sacred Spirit. We should all, male and female, be taught how to protect the sacred in ourselves, with or without procreation. We should also develop the sacred in ourselves before believing that we have enough strength of spirit to grow, shelter, and teach a child.
There is a scene in Tony Morrison's book, Beloved, in which a slave mother kills her child rather than have the child become a slave. I understand this urge. If I had known that my children didn't have choices in my country for how they would lead their own lives, I'm not sure that I would have agreed to have children.
I will not rest until every person on earth makes free decisions about how to embrace the sacred in themselves and channel their gifts into creating a more responsible, compassionate earth.
Become! Then go forth, be fruitful, and multiply your Sacred Spirit in all that you encounter.