It is 2014. The 21st Century. And yet, I am amazed daily at how many antiquated notions still exist within our society. One of those notions that still amazes me is the reaction I get when people ask me about having kids. I am 35, divorced, currently in a much more healthy committed relationship, and I do not have kids. I do not ever plan on having kids. I really am surprised at how many times I get the “raised “eyebrow” reaction when I make such an honest and simple statement to people.
I like kids, kids are pretty cool. I like to talk to them, play with them, I like to entertain cute little babies and see them smile. I have taken care of kids ranging in age from 4 weeks to 11 years. I have changed diapers, given bottles, been spit up on, peed on, helped with everything from potty training to homework. My mother was a maternity nurse for 42 years. I have often wondered if this last fact is a big reason I am an only child, but I digress. Enjoying children does not automatically mean that you want even one of your own. Being around babies does not automatically make a woman of child bearing age swoon for booties and baby showers.
Contrary to anything you may have heard or believe, all women are not automatically hard-wired with the desire to reproduce. To the best of my knowledge, I am physically capable of having children if I so choose. This simple fact does not however mean that I should. No one should do anything simply because they can, or because all their friends are doing it. Hearken back to your parents and their old chestnut about jumping off of that proverbial bridge. Well, fast forward to your twenties and thirties, especially if you’re married, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by women who basically try to make you feel like you’re not in the “club” if you’re not popping out a pup or two by the time you’re 30.
So my reason for not wanting kids is pretty basic. I’m selfish. I want my time and my resources for myself. If I want to go out on a Thursday night I don’t have to schedule a sitter a week in advance. If I want to pick up and drive to Reno for a few days to decompress, I can. But this really is the basic reason. The bigger reason is that I just do not want the greater responsibility that comes with being a parent. The constant worry. Not just the worry that your kid is safe and healthy every day, but the worry that you’re raising what will eventually become a well rounded, well adjusted, happy member of the human race. Think about that, that’s some big time pressure. If every person who wanted to have a baby had to review and sign a contract spelling out their responsibility to raise a polite, considerate, well-educated human being to the best of their ability, I bet lots of them would think about it before just signing on the dotted line.
And there’s the worry you have before the child is even born. The list of potential health and development issues that could occur….the list goes on and on. Ok so I know right now you may be saying to me, “Hey, that’s part of the whole experience! You gotta take the chance just like anything else in life!” Well, no, actually I do not. I choose to not have a child because I am not interested in any of that, and I have no overwhelming sense of “mommyhood” buried deep within me anywhere that tells me to ignore all the stuff about parenting that’s a royal pain and give it a try anyway. That’s a chance, that once it has been taken, has results from which there are no turning back.
But when you really look at it, I guess people like me are not the truly selfish ones. The folks who have kids just because they can, or they feel like it’s just “what you’re supposed to do” at a certain point in your life are the selfish ones. I totally understand that there are parents out there who absolutely adore being parents, and to them I give a heartfelt “Bravo!”, because it truly amazes me how someone can just revel in what is the world’s most difficult job. And it’s been my experience that those folks tend to raise the best members of our society. Like any other job, if you truly love it, it’s not work.
Then I encounter the folks who seem to be griping about their kids every time I see them. Griping about how much they had to spend on this or that, the event they had to miss, how they never have time for themselves. And to these folks I want to ask, “WHY exactly did you have kids?” I get that it’s hard work, but you can’t tell me that it’s that awful all of the time can you? These are the folks who I believe had kids because they felt they had to, or maybe it’d be “fun”, but I don’t think they were ever in it for the long haul.
Kids. You can’t return them, you can’t change your mind when the cute wears off. So, please don’t egg me on to have kids, don’t keep asking the newlywed at work, “SOOOOO? When you gonna have a BAAAAAAYBAY?” Cripes, we got sick enough of getting asked when we were finally going to get married after I’d had an engagement ring on my finger for like, a DAY. Not all women want kids. Some of us value our freedom, and if you want to call that selfish, well, I’m okay with that.