I don’t want kids.
I repeat, I do not want kids.
I can already guarantee that there are women reading this who are nodding their heads in agreement to that statement, while many are struggling to overcome their disbelief.
When I was younger, I always assumed I would have kids. All I knew at the time was the typical Western societal norm for a woman: get an education, start a career, marry your high school or college sweetheart, buy a house, have kids. At the time, too immature to know what I wanted out of life, I just assumed the whole white picket fence life was in my future.
Except then it wasn’t.
High school and college loves faded away. I completed my Master’s degree program and was single. I moved across the country, alone. I started a career, alone. I traveled, alone. In the years I spent on my own, I learned to live and thrive on my own terms, separate from anyone else.
While many of my friends were settling down, getting married and starting families, I felt as though I was only just beginning this adventure that is my life.
During that time, I thought maybe not having the maternal instinct was a phase. After all, the women around me couldn’t wait to have kids. I just figured that once I found the right man, my ovaries would kick it into high gear and baby fever would beckon.
Except then it didn’t.
I found the man I am meant to spend the rest of my life with, and the more we discussed what that future held for us, the more we realized that this societal norm, which I always assumed I would follow, was not the path meant for us.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against kids. I love my nieces and nephews and my friend’s kids. But that doesn’t mean I want to dedicate my life to raising them.
I have never had ‘baby fever’. I have never felt the need to be a mother. I am completely fulfilled, even without a mini-me running my life.
This is a concept that is extremely difficult for many to grasp. We have become so accustomed to the standard social role of women: get married, have babies. Apparently it is so assumed that is the path to be followed, that once you are married, your womb becomes the business of every family member, church-goer and well-intended stranger.
Being honest in these situations does nothing. If you tell someone that you do not want to have children, the confusion and disbelief on their face is palpable. The retorts are quick and common: “give it a few years” or “you will change your mind”…as though my opinion on bringing a child into this world could be categorized in the same flight of fancy that causes me to change my hair color, pierce my ears or get a tattoo.
Even though we have made our stance fully clear to our families, the passive-aggressive disbelief and disappointment is made evident at all of our family functions. It has become easier to dodge and ignore questions related to future children, than to confront them head on. It’s unfortunate that instead of being able to enjoy time spent with our families, we are constantly avoiding presumptuous comments and defending or preparing to defend our shared life choice.
It’s strange to me, that people seem so self-assured that we will, at some point, change our minds about wanting to have children. I don’t understand the need for families to feel like they can convince or peer pressure a couple into wanting children.
A child’s life is nothing to be gambled with.
I would much rather reach 50, look back and wish I had a child, than bring a child into this world that I do not want. Should I at some point decide I want children, there are plenty of options to create a family outside of child-bearing years.
I think the best way to end this, is with an excerpt from Christen Reighter’s TED talk titled “I don’t want children — stop telling me I’ll change my mind.” It’s a great talk, as most TED talks are…and it’s only about 15 minutes long. Feel free to check it out.
“I believe that a woman’s value should never be determined by whether or not she has a child, because that strips her of her entire identity as an adult unto herself. Women have this amazing ability to create life, but when we say that that is her purpose, that says that her entire existence is a means to an end.
It’s so easy to forget the roles that society places on us are so much more than mere titles. What about the weight that comes with them, the pressure to conform to these standards …the fear associated with questioning them, and the desires that we cast aside to accept them? There are many paths to happiness and fulfillment. They all look very different, but I believe that every one is paved with the right to self-determination.
I want women to know that your choice to embrace or forego motherhood is not in any way tied to your worthiness or identity as spouses, as adults, or as women … and there absolutely is a choice behind maternity, and it is yours and yours alone.”