When Elizabeth Gilbert was a young woman, she was following a path that she had watched her own mother and grandmother follow before her. The Eat, Pray, Love author married in her 20s, moved to the suburbs and lived in a nice home with her then-husband. The next step? Having children.
But Gilbert eventually realized something: She didn't want children. And she no longer wanted to be married to her husband. She rejected the path taken by other women in her family, filed for divorce and set about on a solo journey of self-discovery through Italy, India and Indonesia. While many people praised Gilbert for embarking on a brave, new path, her decision not to have children is something that many have a hard time understanding.
"It's a choice, and people ask me about it all the time," Gilbert tells Oprah during a "Super Soul Sunday" interview. "They're always a little hesitant to ask me because they feel like it's invasive, and I'm like, 'Let’s talk about this because I think we all should talk about this.'"
In Gilbert's experience, not every woman is destined for motherhood. "The determination that I've come to is that there are three kinds of women in the world: There are women who are born to be mothers. There are women who are born to be aunties. And there are women who should not be allowed to be within 10 feet of a child," she says. "It is very important that you figure out which one of those camps you belong in, because tragedy and sorrow results from ending up in the wrong category."
Like Gilbert, Oprah has also chosen not to have children. "I'm in the auntie camp," she tells the author.
"Me, too," Gilbert says. "I call it 'the auntie brigade.'"
As she writes in her latest book, Committed, the decision not to have children doesn't mean that the "auntie" women dislike them. That's certainly not true, Gilbert clarifies.
"The assumption is that if you don't have children, you hate children," she says. "The auntie camp loves children."
Elizabeth Gilbert's full discussion with Oprah airs on "Super Soul Sunday" this Sunday, October 12, on OWN at 11 a.m. ET, during which it also streams live on Oprah.com, Facebook.com/owntv and Facebook.com/supersoulsunday.