If we’re talking about life — about family or what have you — and somewhere along the line I’m to give my feeling on the matter, and I say “I do not want to have children” — there is only one acceptable response on your part: acknowledgement.
Do not launch into your “you might change your mind” tirade, or your “maybe you’ll meet a nice man” argument. I am fully aware that either of these occurrences are possible. However, I am not attracted to men who want children. I have met plenty of nice men and the minute they announce their deep rooted desire to procreate I ghost.
There is nothing on this earth that will guarantee I won’t fuck you faster than the words “I want kids eventually,” — so that’s cleared up.
And if you are a friend of mine and at some point I wake up and think that I want kids, I realize that you may not be successful in stopping me. You can, and should, however, report me to child services at your earliest opportunity.
Because while I’m aware that I may not be completely immune to the midlife pull of maternal whims, I can assure you that I would come to resent the life in small, but meaningful ways. The child would be miserable and so would I —and anyone else involved.
Rest assured that when your child is throwing a tantrum in the grocery store I’m not judging you —I’m judging your kid. I feel for you. I know you’re doing your best to wrangle a screaming, kicking kid. I don’t think there’s anything bad or wrong about you. And intellectually I know that your kid is just being a kid — and that’s the point.
I don’t want a kid and here’s one reason why: I don’t suffer loud noises well. I don’t tolerate whining or wailing of any kind for more than a few seconds before my fists clench. I grit my teeth at the red-faced two-year-old terrors.
It dangerously raises my blood pressure.
I also do not handle bodily fluids well.
Do I really need to elaborate on this —?
It’s not even just the more challenging aspects of parenthood that don’t appeal to me. I also loathe being interrupted. Loathe it. I have had fleeting moments of resentment toward people I love when they have interrupted my creative work, even unintentionally.
In what universe would it be wise for me to invite a child, who at least for the first decade needs me every single day, into an environment where I’m going to resent their existence at least part of the time?
I’m selfish. Absolutely, there’s no question about it. I guard my time like an old miser with his riches. I am truly gutted by merely entertaining the thought of a child needing me when I need to work.
This isn’t even just limited to children.
I’ve momentarily despised ex-boyfriends for wanting to cuddle when I was reaching for my notebook. In those moments it’s like an addiction: there is nothing in the world but my work, there’s nothing else that can even touch me or make me feel anything remotely worth feeling. It is my passion and my pursuit and until I’ve had my fix you’d best leave me be.
Once I’ve been satiated I’m nicer to be around, but like any drug, I don’t know when the craving will hit again. I don’t know when the inspiration or passion will flush me with trembling heat. When it does, there’s nothing more important to me than words on a page.
That includes you, or a lover — or a child.
It’s beyond not wanting children at this point. I am self-aware enough to recognize that my passion, which is also my burden, would make me insufferable as a parent.
How is me locking myself away in my office for hours on end any different than my mother locking herself behind the bathroom door to purge? How would I be doing any better than she did?
This doesn’t even factor in my illness, which fatigues me so violently. I would not have the energy to run after a child. Mentally, my brain fog is so thick at times that I’m not even sure I would be able to keep the kind of careful eye on a baby that is necessary. My reaction time is sometimes too slow to keep myself from harm’s way — God forbid I was in charge of a child.
That being said, I have a nephew who I adore. He’s three and a half. People often remark, “Well, you love him, don’t you?” Or, they’ll remember a time at their son’s birthday party where I was perfectly lovely with the children.
This in no way means that I want, or should have, children of my own. Just because I was nice to your kid at his birthday party or I enjoy the few hours a month I spend with my nephew doesn’t mean that I’m mom-material.
Just because I don’t want kids doesn’t mean I hate kids or that I’m going to be an asshole to them. I mean, jesus christ, I’m not a monster.
I know I’ve written this somewhere before, but I’m still thinking about it. When women say things to me like, “You might change your mind,” it completely negates my choice, my emotion.
If they had said to me, “I can’t wait to have a baby,” and I had said, “Well, you might change your mind. . .” that would be rude. It would imply that perhaps I didn’t think she should. And it infers that I don’t believe she’s capable of making a huge decision about her life, or that her emotions which have informed that decision — which I may not have context for — aren’t valid. What if, when my best friend told me she was pregnant, I’d said, “You might change your mind, maybe you should consider having an abortion,” despite how excited she was?
Would you crush a woman’s excitement about motherhood by implying that perhaps she should terminate in case she changes her mind? Can you imagine the look of horror on her face when you suggest to her that she might be wrong about something that she feels so strongly about and that, in fact, one day she may entirely change her mind and end up in a fate that horrifies her?
How fucked up is that?
We’re not talking about growing up and suddenly liking brussels sprouts.
If you had asked me at 5 years old if I wanted children, I would have said no. That was 20 years ago. In fact, there are a few adults in my life who recall me saying, at 5, 6, 7 years old, that I did not want babies. I did not want to play with baby dolls. I would have rather played the housekeeper than the mother when playing house.
I’ve felt this way for 20 years. Lots of other things have changed and evolved during that time. I’ve remained open to the infinite possibilities of life and reached wildly for most of them. You cannot say that I am a person who is resistant to change or self-actualization. I am perfectly well aware that life changes and I’d be ridiculous to try to sidestep it.
What I’m telling you, however, is this: there are some changes of heart, some leaps of faith, that people should not take. Having children after years of resenting the very idea of it is one.
The only people who should have children are those who want them. Because those are the people who will do everything for them, give them the best life they can possibly have and love them ferociously. It doesn’t matter how much of an education they have or the money they bring in.
Some of the most well-adjusted, happiest people I know grew up in abject poverty with parents who barely graduated high school. Likewise, some of the most neurotic and miserable people I know grew up in mansions with millions of dollars and never got a single hug.
So, what if I wake up one day at 38 and feel like I love children and want one so bad I can’t think of anything else? Even work, even food, even love?
Dear reader, I would fight it. Because in order to become that person I would have had to shed myself entirely. I wouldn’t even know that woman.
She would be a complete and utter stranger to me; and despite my misgivings, I know better than to trust a stranger with my children.