As a 36-year-old female who is now married, but has been in a relationship with the same man for 9 years almost, people like to ask me when we are going to start having kids. They also like to remind me that I’m not getting any younger and I should hurry.
I know in their minds, they are only stating the obvious course of human nature… People grow up, fall in love, have kids, grow old, have grandkids, etc. And reminding them that I don’t want children is a little like slapping them in the face. Or at least, that’s the look I usually get along with a weird sucking in of breath like I just committed treason.
It isn’t entirely their fault. Society has programed us to believe that everyone, especially women, want children. When that isn’t the case, no one is quite sure how to react. I even read an article recently about how Millennials are misplacing their maternal instincts onto their pets.
Let me help with this misconception, since I am a woman who has never wanted children.
It isn’t the expense of having a child. It isn’t the time and I’m a selfish person and willing to admit that. It isn’t the possibility that I will pass along my bad genes and my child will be physically or mentally ill. It isn’t even the fear that I would be a bad parent. And I do not misplace my maternal instincts onto Lola the Destroyer.
The simple truth is, I do not want children because I do not want children. Yep. It’s that simple. Some people don’t want dogs or cats or gas-guzzling cars or knockoff shoes or to work in an office and when those people say they don’t want those things, everyone just nods their heads and accepts it. But not wanting children seems to require a reason. I make shit up if I have to, usually I talk about my health and infertility issues… However, the real reason I don’t want children is because I don’t want children.
The majority of the time, I don’t even like children. How’s that for being brutally honest? I can hang out with Jude the Great Nephew all day, but I’m just as happy when mommy picks him up as I am when he wants to give me a kiss.
It’s not even a lack of maternal instinct, which I do indeed have, although I will tell people I don’t. I love when Jude wants hugs and kisses, I like to play with him, I don’t mind feeding him, when he’s sick I worry. When he conks his little head, I have a moment when my heart stops while I check on him. I hate when he cries because he’s sad or hungry or hurt himself. I have all of those reactions, just like a person who wants kids would have.
It doesn’t mean I secretly want them. It doesn’t mean that I have buried my desire for children into my subconscious because I do have fertility issues, which is the other thing everyone latches onto.
However, it is not a mental illness. It’s not about what I would be exchanging in my life. It’s not about my fertility issues. My subconscious doesn’t secretly yearn for me to be a mother. I do not want children because I just do not want children. And I am aware I just repeated myself verbatim from above, but I get so tired of being asked why I don’t want children and then prodded when I give an answer that I feel this needs to be repeated.
There are probably hundreds of thousands of women out there just like me. There isn’t any real reason they don’t want children, they just don’t. I actually know 3 other than myself. They also can’t give you a real reason for why they don’t want kids. They can make shit up, like I do, but the truth comes down to that one piece of information that every thinks is crazy…
They don’t want kids because they don’t want kids.
God forbid one of us says that out loud though. Other people look at us like we sprouted a second head. Most of the time, I think they would feel better if they heard me say I was a deranged psychopath that had murdered thirty people and they were next on my list.
Surprisingly, the world isn’t going to end because I don’t have children. My parents are grandparents and now great grandparents. My husband’s parents are grandparents with the possibility of becoming great grandparents any day (their grandson is also an adult who is married). Neither of our parents are missing out on anything and if they were, they could always adopt a dog to misplace their maternal instincts on…
And knowing that I don’t want children, it makes sense to not have them. Would I resent them? Would I be emotionally disconnected from them? Would they grow up knowing that I actually hadn’t intended to ever give birth to them? What kind of life is that for a child?
To me, it makes more sense to not have children, no excuses needed, because I know that I don’t want them. Society needs to progress a little and finally come to the realization that not every woman on the planet wants to be a mother. Also, if you don’t want to be a mother, you are not missing out on the joys of motherhood. Quite the opposite actually; if you don’t want kids, but have one, that takes a psychological toll on a person that is hard to explain, but makes motherhood more like a claustrophobic cage that they can’t escape from.
So let’s start the movement to change minds, attitudes, and social norms. The next time you hear a woman or a man for that matter, say they don’t want kids, don’t fall into the trap of asking why and pointing out all they are missing. Just accept that they don’t want children and they may not have a reason for it and the world is not going to end as a result. Their parents have learned to accept the fact that Child X isn’t going to give them grandchildren and they have found other outlets for that…. whether it be a favorite niece’s child or a dog or a pumpkin they named Sam (which might in fact be crazy).
Besides, there are 8 billion people on this planet, many of whom need love, attention, and families. Those of us who are not procreating are allowing space for those forgotten souls to find someone to love them… even if it means our parents treat them like grandchildren. I know because my father is a collector of lost and forgotten souls. With me not having children, he has the time and the capabilities of helping those lost and forgotten souls with their needs; whether that means being a father or grandfather figure to them or being their friend.
We are not freaks. We can’t explain why we don’t want children and that should be okay. We are tired of making shit up to end the barrage of questions that come from the statement “we aren’t having children.” We just want to live our lives and be accepted despite that one tiny detail that makes everyone’s heads explode when they hear it. But it takes understanding to make changes and no one has even started to try and understand this phenomenon. Instead, they want to label us as damaged or mentally ill when we aren’t. In other words, we should not be defined by our want to not procreate and we should not be ridiculed, pressured, or considered freaks for it.
*Side Note: I knew before I was seven that I didn’t want children. Most people thought it was a phase and I’d grow out of it. When I didn’t, then it was because there was something mentally wrong with me that kept me from wanting kids. The truth was, I had spent all day at daycare with little babies and kids younger than me and it was like a lightbulb going on in my head… I did not want to live the life of a parent. Thoughts of having my own children have never filled me with joy and having a baby is not going to cure that.