I think I was probably seven-years-old when I first had an inkling that perhaps I didn’t want to do the whole kid thing. At the time it was due to the excruciating pain of childbirth, and I didn’t want that. But it was just a thought. A fleeting one. I didn’t truly start making any decisions about wanting children probably until I was in high school. At the time, however, I thought being a mother was an inevitability, something that I was going to have to go through regardless of whether or not I wanted children. It was the next step in life, something I was just going to have suck up and do. But the problem with that thought is that I was just really beginning to understand what I wanted out of life, and what I wanted out of life did not include children. Children were not my idea of happiness or contentment.
I remember my first time I had a pregnancy scare in high school from my now husband. I was paralyzed with terror, not because of the shame of being a pregnant teen, but because I did not want to be pregnant. I’m fairly certain I have tokophobia. Any dreams of pregnancy I have are nightmares, and I always wake up relieved they’re not real. But back to my pregnancy scare. I knew what I was going to do if I were pregnant. There was no question about it. I felt I was late, and I knew I was irregular to start, but it seemed I was too irregular. I think I had my now husband buy me a pregnancy test, which turned out negative. I was still restless though, still fearful–until my cycle finally hit. The relief I felt was immeasurable.
I think the scare made me realize that I didn’t want kids. Ever. It’s not tokophobia that makes children an undesirable option. It’s that my maternal bone only exists for animals, I don’t have a clock (I’m 30 years old), and babies and children have never done anything for me. I have never dreamt about being a mother. I have never imagined being a mother and caring for an infant in a blissful way–or at least yearning. Even when my own nephew was born and I was at the hospital to see him, I was honestly weirded out when I was holding him, which had nothing to do with his fragility and everything to do with when he opened his mouth to cry, I wanted nothing to do with him anymore. Crying babies are sensory overload. I feel sympathy for parents with fussy babies, but I want far away.
My husband used to want children, only because it’s the thing everyone does. I think I changed his mind when he realized it’s not something you have to do. He’s fine with my decision. He even approves of my getting a tubal, if I can find someone willing to do it. Children are a choice, not an inevitably, and I’m glad I’m privileged enough that I don’t have this pressure to have children; my parents don’t even care.
Even so, on occasion I still have to defend my decision. There are too many people out there with the mindset that children are blessings and must be so for everyone. If having children has brought them happiness, then surely it is some sort of requirement that they bring everyone else happiness, too. There is also the common idea that I’ll change my mind, that they’re different when they’re your own. It is exasperating defending myself when I know my own mind so much better than other people. And guess who I have had to defend myself against? Men! Men who do not have to bear children, who will never know the pain of childbirth, who will never risk their lives because maternal mortality is largely abysmal, who largely do not do their fair share of childrearing. Of course it is easy for men to want children because they do not have to shoulder any risk and don’t have to worry about putting in an equal amount of responsibility to raise that child. Even when both parents work, mothers still do the majority of the childrearing. I commend the men out there shouldering the same responsibilities, but it isn’t most of them, unfortunately.
I am often gobsmacked that these sorts of men do not have enough self-awareness to critically think why it is easier for them to desire children than it is for women. In fact, women haven’t even argued with me. I know there are women out there who would, but I haven’t met them yet. Women largely understand the sacrifices involved in childrearing in a way men don’t or won’t understand. They intrinsically know it should be optional for that very reason.
But I absolutely will not change my mind. They are not different when they are your own, and it is dangerous to push this message, as though having a child is as easy as adopting a puppy. I personally know someone who said if she could do it all again, she never would have had children and would have instead pursued physical therapy school, just as I am. Obviously this isn’t to say she doesn’t love her kids. She does, but she has admitted that motherhood removed a lot of options for her, especially because she is a single mom. At the same time, I understand this wish because my pursuing physical therapy would be impossible with a child. My husband is a trucker, and I know my parents would not want to be babysitters all the time while I try to get schoolwork and studying done.
I’m not going to list all of the reasons I don’t want kids because someone out there with all the time in the world is going to refute every reason in some vain attempt to convince me why I should have children when I do not want children ever. Children require sacrifice. The question is whether or not that is worth it in your personal life. Wonderful if it is. Fine if it isn’t. I don’t care about the parent who was still able to pursue college with a child or travel to France with an infant in tow. There are sacrifices that must always be made, sacrifices I personally do not wish to make. Sacrifices I never wish to make. A baby isn’t worth it for me. Parenthood is neither interesting nor fulfilling for me. Being able to pursue physical therapy school has required sacrifices, but they are sacrifices I want to make for something that is both intellectually stimulating and fulfilling.
I’m not interested in the drudgeries of parenthood.
Just as not everyone is meant to be a physical therapist, not every woman is meant to bear children. If all women were meant to be mothers, we wouldn’t have this concept of consent or even be able to invent the concept. We wouldn’t have a say in the matter. We would be acting on pure instinct the way animals do when they mate. But we don’t. We have choice.
While regret for children may be an outlier, people still regret having children every single day. To the people who state it’s different when they are your own, why would you want someone who doesn’t want children to bring a child into the world on the off-chance that they don’t regret that child? Regret is much more likely in a case where a person is staunchly against having children–and those children suffer.
Women are not incubators.