So today’s post is a bit of a departure from my usual, light-hearted topics. It started the other night when I read another one of those, “You’re leading an empty/purposeless life if you don’t have children” type deals. I started typing and, before I knew it, I had written this post. I almost didn’t publish it, but at the urging of Riley (who, coincidentally, rarely gets asked about his potential fatherhood status) and co-workers, I decided to share it. So here goes.
On Not Having Children
First off, I will preface this by saying two things.
#1- I adore children
#2- I do not have children
As a teenager, all my girlfriends voted that I would be the first among us to have children. I babysat constantly. I helped my mom teach theater classes to kids of all ages. I helped out with the little kids at my dance studio. I was all about kids and they loved me back
Fast forward to adulthood, when my sister had a baby. I was ecstatic to be an aunt! It felt amazing to hold my beautiful niece in my arms when she was little. I fell in love with her smile and little feet. As she grew older, I loved getting to know her changing personality and seeing the world through her eyes. Holidays, standing in line for 90 minutes to meet Ana and Elsa at Disney World (#worththewait), making Christmas cookies…It all seems more magical when a child is around. Kids are a handful and a huge responsibility, but I know they’re worth it. Believe me, I still love kids.
While this was all happening, my personal views on wanting have kids of my own started shifting. My husband and I realized we loved traveling together. We loved our pets, our quiet lifestyle, our careers, our date nights, our families, our friends. We loved doting on the nieces and nephews during the holidays and then returning them to their parents. Personally I loved my job, reading, music, running, gardening (sort of), doing yoga, blogging, and more. Life was really good.
As soon as I got married, the questions and opinions started rolling in. I’m sure they were well-meaning, but they came in anyway. “When are you having kids?” “Oh, but you HAVE to have children!” “You’ll change your mind.” “You just get to experience all the joys of life when you have children of your own” “I never knew REAL love until I had children…you’ll see.” “You don’t know what you’re missing!” “But don’t you want to have a FAMILY?!” “I didn’t feel like a real woman until I had children” “I was SO selfish until I had kids. Then I really learned how to care about someone other than myself!” That last one kills me. Good thing most people have kids, otherwise the majority of humans would apparently be completely incapable of caring about other humans. Thank goodness all the doctors, firefighters, teachers, social workers, non-profit charity workers, etc. have all had children. How else would they know how to care?!?!
Then came the passive-aggressive comments: “Must be so nice to just worry about yourself…” “Ha! I don’t even know what it feels like to just run out to the store for milk!” “Must be nice to just work, make money, and go on vacations….” (Uh, yeah, actually…it is.) I should also comment that at no point did anyone actually bother to ask whether I was even CAPABLE of having children. For women who can’t, I suspect this commentary is especially painful, particularly when you don’t feel like sharing details on the status of your uterus.
“Well…you never know what can happen….”
Yes, that’s true. You never know what can happen. If you’d asked me 15 years ago, I would’ve told you that I would get baby fever, just like all my girlfriends had. I thought I’d have kids in my early 20s, like my mom did, so that I’d still be young when they went off to college. I thought all the Pinterest boards about nursery decorations and mommy blog essays about the joys of motherhood would push me over the edge and I’d suddenly be dying to have a baby of my own.
It never happened, though. And while, yes, I realize that I am not geriatric and that many women have children when they’re older than my current 31 years, I’m just saying that is hasn’t happened yet. And maybe it never will.
I don’t want to have children just because other people have told me I should. I don’t want to have children out of fear. Because that’s what it would be at this point in my life. I’d be having children because of the fear of regret. I’m not a genius, but I’m pretty sure fear is not the best motivation for bringing a new life into the world. If I ever change my mind (because yes, anything can happen), I would want it to be out of hope and a strong desire to be a mother. And right now? I just don’t have it. And maybe I never will.
I don’t judge women who choose to have children. That’s awesome and I’m thrilled for you! I will gladly play with your kid while you take a much-needed 2-minute bathroom break. With that said, I don’t feel like I have a void in my heart or my life. I have a family. I have goals, hopes, and dreams to live a life of purpose and meaning. And yes, children are certainly a great way of achieving that, but there are also many other ways to feel fulfilled and to give back to the human race.
So please don’t worry about me. I’ll muddle through somehow, I promise. I’ll be a good wife, friend, aunt, daughter, sister, employee, co-worker, dog owner…… You get the point. Thanks for all your opinions, but I’ll be just fine.
No questions today, just your thoughts.