I like to think that there are distinctive things that make up who I am. For instance, I am 100% convinced that spiders are the absolute epitome of all that is evil. I stand firm that Cheez-Its are probably the best salty snack food ever given to mankind. Also, my husband and I don’t plan on having any children.
My decision to be child-free has been on my mind a lot recently, especially since my two good friends had their truly lovely daughter, who I met for the first time this week. She is nine kinds of adorable, and I’m absolutely fascinated that these two super cool people had a baby. I keep thinking about their kid growing up, developing a personality, learning to walk and talk, going to school, making friends, sharing fears, having all these first experiences…it’s kind of an amazing thing, having a kid. I’m really, really psyched for them.
I don’t hate kids. When I tell people that I don’t want to have children, I think a lot of them assume it’s because I don’t like kids. I’m all for people having kids. I’m just not all for ME having children.
I’ve really had to examine this mindset of late, since it’s becoming more real to me that my friends are mostly all married (or soon to be) and are moving into that stage of life where they are going to have children. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be left out simply because I won’t be sharing similar experiences. Sometimes I wonder if I should want to have kids, and what that means about me that I don’t. But I always come back to the same conclusion: I just don’t have the desire to have children.
It’s a standard story of mine, but I grew up in a large family. I love my family. They are awesome. They are loud and obnoxious and funny and fabulous. I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. But I’m quite a bit older than most of my siblings – there are five years between my brother and I, 9 years between me and the twins, 12 years between me and my sister and 14 years between me and the youngest. Needless to say, my childhood and teenage years were spent immersed in very young children.
There is quite a lot to enjoy about a big family – there’s also quite a bit of work involved. My parents both worked – my Dad days and my Mom nights. I was there when they couldn’t be and took care of my siblings. Today I’m not so worked up about it–in fact, I’m glad I could have helped that way–but as a typical teenaged girl, I was totally wrapped around the axel about having to stay home and take care of kids when my friends didn’t seem to have the same responsibilities. I just remember feeling trapped. And I vividly remember all that work – diapers, homework, bottles, making dinner, cleaning throw up out of my hair at 3am, everything got messy super fast and it was so LOUD and…
Well, you get how I painted the picture in my mind. Now, let me be clear about something: my parents and my siblings are not responsible for my frame of mind. My reaction to those circumstances is responsible. Was I actually trapped as a kid? Of course not. I did an assload of after school activities, hung out with friends and had a good time. I didn’t do all the work and I didn’t have too much responsibility. I just had a particular reaction to my circumstances that created a particular viewpoint.
That reaction shaped a lot of behaviors that I have today. I can’t stand too much noise or commotion. I don’t enjoy sitting around the house all the time; on the weekends I MUST be out doing something for at least part of the day. I keep as neat of a house as possible. When I look at how a child would fit into some of the patterns and routines I have, I can’t picture it at all. I like the thought of being able to pick up and go whenever I want to. I like not having to wake up in the middle of the night for potentially many years. I like that I won’t have to deal with being anxious over my child’s welfare all of the time (since I am a person who has acquired a lot of anxious behaviors). My life is peaceful, and I want it to remain that way.
Is that selfish? I think only if you’re of the mind that you should have children, which I don’t agree with as a blanket statement. You should have kids if you get that your life will be great with kids, and you shape it that way, every day. In my opinion, you shouldn’t have kids if that’s what you’re “supposed to do” or a partner is not really into the idea, or you get pressured into it by your peers. I’m not the type of person who’s current outlook on parenthood is something that I think would be beneficial or fair for me, my husband or our would-be child.
I still think about it. I still imagine what life would be like if I were to become a mother. The idea is so alien to me, it’s kind of hard to describe. I don’t imagine looking into my child’s face and being madly in love as only a parent can be. What I do think about is the crying and the sleeplessness, the temper tantrums, back-sass and the teenage angst. I’m perfectly willing to entertain the notion that my mind may change sometime down the line, but as far as I can tell right now, I don’t see that happening, and I’m not particularly inclined to work on it. And I’m only being selfish or stubborn or disillusioned to those who believe that having children is a very fulfilling experience. I’m clear it is…for those who want it to be. I just don’t want that path to be mine. I think I’d be a very competent, involved, loving mother if I were to have kids – but the way I see it, it would come at a cost. I’m not bringing a child into this world in that frame of mind. I’m sure I feel like I’m missing something at times – but that’s actually more about worries I have about being left out than worries about missing having children.
So, I wish nothing but the best to all my friends who do have children – it’s really awesome meeting their kids, and it will be awesome meeting the ones that arrive in the future. As long as my friends don’t mind meeting my future puppies, we’ll all get along just fine. 😉