“So, when are you having children?”
Man, this question. Before we get into anything, there are so many reasons why it’s inappropriate to ask that question. I’ll list some articles below on that. Read through them and then continue.
Alright, so. I get this question, all the time. And to be honest, I’ve been lying to everyone. I’ve been saying, “I don’t want kids, never.” or “I can’t have children.” or “We’ll see, not right now, not interested, change the subject”.
Because it’s easier to say that in conversation than it is to share all of the thoughts and conversations my husband and I have had around it. (P.S. Also really stinkin’ weird and pissed off that he doesn’t get asked this question NEAR as much as I do. Thanks society.)
Side Rant: Having folks come up and rub my belly (that has no baby!) and asking if we’re trying? Get out of my bubble. Asking repeatedly if we’re having unprotected sex often enough to grow a human…Am I the only one who thinks this is weird??
Anyway, back to the point. I lie and respond as if this is not or ever will be an option.
And that’s not true.
We’ve thought and talked about this topic so much.
We LOVE children. We have nine nieces and nephews (yes, nine!) between us and adore every single one. We have so much fun with them, love taking care of them and watching them grow up. We think about having a child out of love and raising it to change the world and be an awesome adult. We talk about parenting and birth and grandbabies. We’ve thought and talked and thought and talked. Probably more than almost anyone we know.
When you ask, I can’t share all those thoughts and conversations in a quick response and frankly, I don’t want to have that conversation with most people who ask this question that aren’t my husband. So, to answer the question in the most thorough way I know, I’m writing this.
And I’m also writing this for all the other women who are childless by choice. Who have these same thoughts and fears and concerns. Because in those rare cases when I do share all these thoughts, there are women who whisper above the heads of their children, “I agree”. There’s women who are childless and say, “Oh girl, me too.” There’s people who shake their head sadly as if I haven’t even considered the question. There’s couples who are confused and think we’re weirdos. There are also folks who judge, insult, and scoff. (Please don’t be one of those.)
So here it is. Why I don’t want to have children (at least right now or maybe ever).
To think of growing a human (which is basically a parasite) for around 9 months INSIDE my body is terrifying. I work a physical job. Having my body be compromised, possibly forever, is something I am scared about. I would never want that to happen! I work with peri-natal women daily and I see what their bodies go through. From gestation, to birth, to parenting—it’s A LOT of changes for your body and not many (if any) of them are positive. I see the injuries, the permanent defects and pain, the recurring problems and conditions. And that’s assuming things go well—more on this later. AND that’s also assuming I can get pregnant, which we all know isn’t a given for every woman.
The roles and expectations
I love what I do. I love to work. I love to give all I can to my community, my marriage, dare I say, the world. Although we are in the 21st century, the expectations on mothers particularly is still left far behind. I know that should my husband and I choose to have children, we would do it our way. We would aim to divide feedings as much as possible and when they grow older, feed them similarly to how we eat (plant based). We would encourage open faith and spirituality—against the grain in our families. I would work and he would be a stay at home dad. (Again out of the norm for our personal family and societal culture). BUT—These are all overcome-able hurdles. It’s totally do able. We could still do it, if we wanted to. However, what may be harder to overcome is the judgement. The expectations. The ones I know I would put on myself. MY own fear. That the “Best” mother I could be wouldn’t work. She would stay home or be there for every milestone. She would bake for every sale, take them to church, make the balanced lunches, have laundry folded daily and throw pinterest birthdays. I would feel my own judgemental eyes on myself almost every step of the way. I would put that pressure on myself and run myself into the ground between my career, volunteering, my marriage and raising a human or two. This sounds like a nightmare to me. And yes, I know, I could have help to overcome this, too. Maybe this wouldn’t be the situation for us if/when we were ready. But where I am now in my life? Not even close to emotionally ready for this internal battle. Not to mention my history with mental health and what risks that would put into play. (Read that last sentence twice.)
Society is ridiculous.
Have you seen the world lately? The rates of everything? The global warming? The political climate? The violence? The economy? What would I be leaving this child behind into? Whoa.
It’s my life and…
I never felt the urge or desire to be a mother. I’m not opposed to it. But I’m also not craving it. I’m happy as ME. All that I am! I love getting to do anything I want to, whenever I want to. And I don’t think that makes for a good parent. The best parent I could be would consider children, sacrifice for them when needed, and put them first. Right now, and yes this is selfish, I love doing me. Knowing this about myself and where I’m at now, how could that be a positive place for a child? Which brings me to…
It’s not just MY life
So many folks talk about having children as if the child has no bearing in this. I was an unexpected mistake. My parents weren’t planning on having me and did the best they could with what they had. I’d like to think I’m the best thing in their lives, c’mon. But honestly, that was a hard burden to wear as a child. Also, imagine as a parent! Now let’s say they are wanted. To make room for this human. This being to be whatever it is they are destined to be. That requires so much in order to do well. It requires patience, growth, awareness, empathy, and desire to create a space for a human to thrive. It’s not about having children so I can be a mother. So I can have that title. So it can be about ME. It’s being a vessel and container for someone else. For them to succeed and thrive. To prepare and teach and provide for this stranger. To consider their desires, thoughts and feelings in the matter. To have that space in my life to be the best petri dish for that parasite to grow. That’s huge.
Goodness gracious, I love my marriage. I love putting my relationship first and I would continue to do so as a parent if that’s the way we go. (That’s not a popular opinion in today’s world, but this is where we stand.) I like being the first priority and I love my husband being my first priority. I honestly don’t think I would like coming second to a child. Again, selfish and not parent material! I love spontaneously going on date nights, travelling, hiking, doing all the things and I know my husband does, too. I like having time and space to grow together as a couple. To prioritize us. A child would change, or at least challenge, that for a loooong while. And keep in mind, this is not just my decision! My husband has just as much say and thoughts on this as whole she-bang as I have. This is something for the two of us, together, that we wouldn’t want to sacrifice. (Back to the, “Why don’t you ask him this question??” rant.)
Kids are expensive. OOH MAN are they expensive. Especially where I choose to live and in the area of the country I am in. The amount of help I would have to fund, the education, health care, and basics on top of all the fun things I’d love for them to have access to. We live far from family and frankly, that adds to this equation in many ways but especially in the financial part. Childcare is incredibly pricey. That requires us being in a place that could financially support this as well as adjusting the lifestyle we love to live now. Not something I’m into.
All of these reasons are assuming the child we may or may not have is healthy and of sound mind/body. Everyday there are complications. Babies are born with all kinds of issues, conditions, and anomalies. What if they’re a jerk? What if my kid sucks, is a brat, or a criminal? What if they hurt people or the world and I brought them into it? This would take every single one of the reasons above and amplify them. And what if something happened to me during birth or shortly after? What about all the things that go wrong growing and birthing a human for ME. As a woman?? Leaving my husband alone with them, or the reverse happening and being left alone with them myself? That terrifies me. These what if’s are things I take seriously. And the biggest what if is even getting pregnant for a full term, too. I’ve seen the pain of infertility. I’ve seen close up how that is devastating. All these what if’s are things I consider heavily.
Yes, I know. If you are determined to have children, these reasons would seem like scoff-able excuses. You might even be reading this and thinking, “Uh, so what? Children are amazing! You’re missing out!”. And that my friend, is why you probably already have children or are planning on it at the very least. I look at this list and am nodding at every point thinking that there couldn’t be a more solid argument. That in and of itself should tell us both something.
My biggest reason, biggest worry, biggest fear:
The “you’ll know it was right after you have them/you’ll regret this later”.
Is that really a good reason to have kids? Is risking an unborn child’s life on that possible regret worth it? Uh—no. I’m not into experiments with other’s lives. So, let’s reverse this. To have that child and wish I hadn’t — I could never live with myself. THAT would be the regret that would haunt me forever. Not the other way around. I don’t think I would regret not having children. I have a full and happy life! I love everything about where I am at and who is with me and where we are going. I KNOW I would hate myself if I had a child and regretted it. If I had them and it wasn’t the right choice. I could see myself silently keeping that to myself all my life, resentful and possibly bitter. Just “making the best of it” until I could get my life, my finances, my spirituality, my career, my ambitions, or body back. I don’t agree with that. I’m not wired the way it’s expected of women today. I crave freedom, independence and autonomy. A child can threaten so much of that and at the end of the day they deserve to be with a parent who wants them no matter what. Who looks at this list and thinks “I would take it all”. Who scoffs at every point on here and signs up at first chance. And that is not me right now or maybe ever.
I am aware, these things could change. The biological clock could start ticking (apparently that happens). I could achieve and see and do all the things and feel ready for this. I could do the work in therapy to mentally support this, financially, physically, etc. I know this could happen. And honestly, I’m curious about it. We think about it often. We talk about it even more. And I’m open to it.
But as it stands now, it’s not there. And I’m loving it that way. I love sleeping all night and waking up rested. I love my quiet time as much as I wish, whenever I wish. I love travel and my husband’s full attention and striving for any and all my ambitions. I love volunteering, giving back, and pursuing my dreams. I love my marriage and giving my all to it. I’m open to creating a life that has this and children, but not right now and I’m not sure about ever. We’re still thinking and talking and thinking and talking. And, enjoying our lives!
So next time you ask this question, I will probably again—lie.
This is a loaded question/answer if I’ve ever seen one and I doubt I’ll share these thoughts with you. But, if you truly want to know my thoughts and feelings, if you genuinely keep asking, I’ll send you this way and start to share these answers. If you’re here now reading this: Thanks for listening. And if you’re a woman and this resonates with you, I’m with you. I know we’re not alone. Cheers to the unexpected, unknowable, future.