Career Over Baby: Why Gabrielle Union’s Position on Motherhood Should Be Respected

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Gabrielle Union covers the October 2015 issue of Redbook magazine — and though her radiant beauty runneth over, the quotes she offered are receiving the most attention. The “Being Mary Jane” star, 42, opened up for the first time about her struggle with having a child with husband Dwyane Wade, who’s nine years her junior.

“So far it has not happened for us,” Union said. “A lot of my friends deal with this. There’s a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger.”

With Union being in the spotlight after starring in films such as “Think Like a Man,” coupled with her marriage to the Miami Heat star player, the pressure for her to win at motherhood comes from all angles — friends and random Internet commenters alike.

Union tried to explain exactly why she is 42 and without children: “The penance for being a career woman is barrenness,” she said. “You feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter.”

But of course, her honesty was not received without backlash. Commenters offered up a lot of “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” talk, calling Union’s predicament an act of selfishness — but is it all even warranted?

Union may be a Hollywood actress, but that doesn’t exempt her from the brunt work of kicking the pavement to go out and find her next role; and with scarce opportunities for black women on-screen (see: Matt Damon’s laughable breakdown on diversity), the free time may not be readily available for her to pause to raise a child.

The dimness of her situation is familiar for a quantity of women — especially those who’ve entered the workforce with thousands of student loan debt on their backs. A 2013 Pew Research study seems to explain the competitive nature of some career women. “Young women today are more likely than young men to say women are paid less for doing the same job and men have easier access to top executive jobs.”

And, that’s not all: Full-time working women earn 78 cents to every dollar a man does, according to the White House.

A photo posted by Gabrielle Union (@gabunion) on

Women are sold the dream of having it all from a young age, but having it all isn’t easy and it doesn’t come without a price. These days women are nurturers and breadwinners, and every decision is a gamble — even choosing to put children off until you can guarantee the lights will stay on.

Personally, as a single woman on the cusp of 30, the thought of never having children is both real and terrifying. I don’t feel ready or financially stable enough to bring a child into the world at this time (I’m factoring in four years of college tuition because I don’t want my child to go through what I did) — and there is no rule book on how to speed up the process. Let’s stop the widespread judging and accept the fact that there is no blueprint for having a family.