Preface: I’m pretty adamant about the fact that I don’t want to have kids, and I will be discussing these thoughts and feelings in this post. It does not mean I think poorly of those who do, who want to, or who wish they could have children. These are only my own personal beliefs and they are not meant to hurt anyone in any way.
When I started college twelve years ago as an 18 year old freshman, I was given an assignment: write a letter to my future self, outlining where I saw myself at graduation and then my 10 year plan.
As a freshman, I planned on focusing on musical theatre performance, perhaps taking some classes in education. I wanted to run a musical theatre company for youth similar to the one I attended as a homeschooler throughout high school.
So that meant I would graduate with my musical theatre focused degree at age 22.
By age 24 or maybe 25 at the latest, I would be married to a wonderful guy.
And a couple years after that at 26 or 27, I would have my first kid. My second would follow a couple years later, so I would have my intended two children by the time I was 30.
I’m now 30, and the only thing that happened in that 10 year plan was “I graduated with some sort of degree at age 22.”
And I did get married, but it was to a woman.
And that marriage was over by the time I hit 30.
And now, I don’t even want any of that.
Let’s back up.
I was raised in a conservative Christian home with one sister two years my junior. I was homeschooled from second grade all the way through high school, and my sister never attended “regular school,” as we called it.
Many of my friends came from families with half a dozen kids, so my family was pretty unusual in that way.
But, being homeschooled, my sister and I had opportunities to provide childcare for our church’s moms and womens’ groups for a little extra money. And we also helped teach Sunday School. I was generally with three and four year olds. I preferred they could verbally communicate with me to tell me what was wrong and that they were potty trained.
And heaven help me if they were short staffed in the infants room. Holding a baby felt so unnatural and like a foreign object. The crying made my head pound and made me want to cry or run away. It brought out my panic reflex, and I wanted nothing to do with that.
While I knew the technique of changing diapers (I actually assisted my mom in teaching American Red Cross Babysitter Classes, and was steps away from becoming an instructor myself) I had no interest in doing so unless absolutely necessary.
And I wasn’t really interested in playing with the kids. I gravitated towards the quiet ones who wanted to sit and have me read to them.
I wasn’t interested in feigning excitement in things I had no interest in.
Quite honestly, I realize looking back, kids bored me.
Sure, I was good with them. Everyone always commented on how well I worked with kids. But I didn’t really care.
Looking back, I realize that in my community, there wasn’t really a spoken option to not have kids. You got married and had kids because that’s what you did. And if you didn’t have kids, it was probably because it was a medical impossibility. And there were dozens of families I knew who adopted, so that was always an option too.
I couldn’t fathom that there were couples that consciously chose not to have children.
So, growing up with this precedent, this overwhelming mindset, of course I was going to pop out some kids. Two, because I didn’t want an only child, but I sure as hell didn’t want more than two. It was what women did.
I don’t know when the shift began, exactly. Probably my early twenties, when my entire world was beginning to morph and bend. First was the realization that I didn’t need to have kids.
Then my friends began to have babies. Maybe once I held one, my “biological clock” would start ticking.
Nope. I couldn’t hand them back fast enough.
Then they talked about their lives, their daily schedules. How much money kids cost.
“But it’s soooooo worth it.”
“When they’re sleeping in your arms.”
But we’ve already established I don’t care about that.
“Well, it’s different when it’s your own.”
But what if it isn’t?
I’m supposed to have a kid just as an experiment, knowing full well I’m unenthusiastic about kids, just hoping that I change my mind when I pop out one of my own?
I’m a super selfish person. I like to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. Marriage was hard enough. I want to take a nap if I want to, go on a trip when I want to, never come home one night if I want to. Having a cat was a huge step for me, and I only agreed to that because I was engaged at the time.
My cat Chet’s lucky I remember he needs water half the time.
I like my sleep.
I don’t have much money, and what extra I do have, I like to spend on weird shit like taxidermy or tonsil guillotines, not diapers.
And I sure as hell know that I have NO INTEREST IN EVER birthing a baby through these loins, as much as I joke about how “with these child-bearing hips, I could pop ’em out like TicTacs.”
Getting an IUD shoved through my cervix was weird and traumatic enough. I can’t imagine a human. I felt a lot of weird things and I have no interest in experiencing that again, magnified a hundredfold.
I mean…this process is disturbing.
Even when I did think about having kids, I never had any interest in the process of pregnancy, and even less, birth. I never felt the need for a child to be biologically mine. And, as awful as this sounds, I really don’t get why people do. Why it needs to be part of their DNA.
I was always fine with the idea of adopting. Ideally not a baby.
“But then you don’t know what you’re gonna get. The older ones have so many issues.”
And giving birth to a kid means it’s gonna be perfect?
But back to not wanting to have kids.
The older I get, the more and more firmly I become entrenched in the idea that I do not want to have kids. I have no needs inside me growing, yearning to be a mother to a child.
The older I get, the more reasons I think of to not have kids, and I can hardly scrape together a couple in the “pros” category.
Pro: People will shut up about asking about if I want kids and judging me for it
Con: People will judge me about my parenting anyway
Pro: Kids could take care of me in my old age. But if I didn’t have kids, I would save over $300,000 in the cost of raising a child from birth to age 18, so I could set myself up all right in a cushy old folk’s home.
Con: The aforementioned money suck that is kids
Con: You can’t guarantee that your kid will turn out all right
Con: The world is a mess right now and is overpopulated. Why would I want to bring a kid into it, and add to the mess?
Con: Lack of freedom.
Con: Lack of sleep.
Con: Lack of alone time.
Con: Losing my career. It’s the most important thing in my life, and I would never want to give it up.
Pro: More likely to find a partner who wants kids than doesn’t want kids.
Pro: Kids can be hilarious.
Con: Kids are destructive AF.
Pro: Kids love you a lot for a while.
Con: Then they grow up and usually hate you for a while and sometimes always will.
Virtually everyone I mention the fact that I never want kids to has the same reaction: “Oh, you will.”
Then explain to me why, the older I get, the more sure I am that this is not the case. My biological clock has never ticked. I have never experienced “baby fever.” I have never felt the overwhelming desire to nurture a tiny human that “belongs” to me.
Explain to me why, when I was entrusted with taking care of a dog for a week, I resented having to be home at a certain time. I resented staying home on weekends, on keeping an eye on her to be sure She wouldn’t destroy the house. And then I thought about how having a child meant years upon years of this lack of freedom.
Explain to me why, when I hear my friends talk about being a mother, I want to run away and cry. Why it triggers my anxiety.
With all of these factors, why the hell would you want me to be a mother? Why would you put such pressure upon me to make me, such an unfit candidate for nurturing, want to reproduce. Why is it any of your business to convince me that my very firm wants and desires are wrong? That I should fulfil my duty as a woman by bringing another unwanted child into an already overpopulated world?
The only motivation I can find is the guilt I feel about refusing my parents grandchildren. Which is definitely not a good enough reason. We’ve discussed this. I’ve been home over holidays and I have cried to my mom about this guilt. And how my sister isn’t too keen on kids either, so there is no way to take the pressure off me.
She tells me that she didn’t want kids when she got married, and it was my dad who convinced her to give it a try and she was so glad she did.
She tells me that maybe, if I find the right partner, I will change my mind.
She tells me that ultimately she’ll understand, but in the subtext, she tells me she’s counting on me to change my mind.
Being married to a woman was the best excuse I could possibly have. There was no way we could afford adoption, and I was sure as hell not going to give birth with aid of a sperm donor. And my wife had so many serious health and mental issues in her bloodline, as well as her age and weight, that she wasn’t a good candidate either.
But I don’t have that excuse anymore.
And I’m dating guys again.
Even though I have an IUD and use condoms, I’m still absolutely terrified of pregnancy. That was one of the main reasons I waited so long to have sex in the first place.
And, even as I’m just casually seeing guys, casually sifting through OkCupid, I see all the profiles: “doesn’t have kids but wants them”. “Has kids and wants more.”
Rare is the profile that reads “doesn’t have kids and doesn’t want them.”
So right now, I’m more than happy to try out this whole “ethical non-monogamy ” thing (more on that in a future post), while Chet the DumpsterCat understands if I may not come home at a specific time, and saves up a little stash of his food just in case.
Chet’s the best son I could ask for, really.