Last week my brother and sister-in-law had a baby girl. A few weeks before that, Husband’s sister announced that she was pregnant with her second child. This week, on the way to court for a client’s sentencing, a co-worker warned me that she might get emotional because she was newly expecting. Add in all the crying kids at church (my ward is almost entirely young families), and it’s starting to feel like babies everywhere.
I put off writing about this last week because it feels selfish to turn other people’s good news into a chance to talk about my issues. But this post has been percolating since I started this blog. The first few times I tried to write it, I’d get as far as the title: Why I Don’t Want Kids. And then I’d start typing the body of the post, and come up with some version of this: I don’t know why I don’t want kids. And I knew that was not an interesting blog post.
It’s not that I don’t ever want kids, like this woman who explains what it’s like to have always known that you’re not “destined for motherhood.” [I thought carefully about linking to Marie Claire after it let that disgusting blog post condemning overweight and obese people run, and decided to because this piece, written by a different woman, defends her choice to live a child-free life well and effectively conveys the message that it’s a choice she shouldn’t have to defend.] I’ve always thought that I would have kids, at some far-off point, and that thought doesn’t make me unhappy. It’s just that I don’t actively want kids now or in the near future the way so many people around me seem too. And, frankly, I don’t think that “my feelings about having children are complicated” is an interesting blog post, either. I’m pretty sure that my feelings are not unusual, they just seem unusual because the people having kids, wanting kids and not having them, and definitively not wanting kids are the ones who talk about it. And why shouldn’t they? They certainly have more to say on the topic.
Last night I chatted on the phone with my mom about the sudden appearance of babies everywhere! in my life and she asked the obvious question: do you want a baby. I answered easily. “No, not at all.” And then I felt compelled to defend my answer. “It just doesn’t make sense for us to have a kid until we have a plan to support that kid.” [As I’ve mentioned before, I pay the rent around here, and neither Husband nor I have any idea where we’ll be job-wise a year from now, let alone five years from now.]
My mom’s response was predictable, but valid: “You can’t always wait for plans to work out.” Because, of course, more often than not, they don’t. Also, you might be miss out on really great things. She’s totally right that there may never be a good time in our careers to have a kid. So you might as well have them sooner. After all, as Penelope Trunk said, “[i]t doesn’t matter whether you have kids now or later, because they will always make your career more difficult. There is no time in your life when you are so stable in your work that kids won’t create an earthquake underneath that confidence.” My mom was also totally right to point out that, if she’d waited until she had a plan, instead of having me at 21, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t be married to Husband. That sometimes what seems like bad timing is actually perfect timing.
So what’s the point of this post? I still don’t want kids now or soon. I still feel conflicted about this. After this conversation with my mom about the problems with waiting, I feel certain about that there are a few things I can and should wait for before deciding it’s time to be a parent. 1) I should want a child. Maybe not until I biologically, psychologically, and emotionally need a child, because that might not ever happen for me. But I should at least like the idea of bringing another human being into my life. 2) My relationship with Husband should be strong enough and healthy enough to survive with substantially less nourishment because babies just make things harder.
So. I really hope this post doesn’t alienate women who want children or bore women who don’t or undermine women who didn’t wait as long as I apparently want to. When I speak about this subject, I feel like I’m always offending the other person or, maybe worse, ineffectively conveying my thoughts. Perhaps my writing is more clear?