This post is not writing-related, except for the fact that it is an exercise in putting my opinions into words. If you would like to skip reading today, I will not be offended as this is a bit outside the stated purpose for this blog. I was inspired to write this by a blog I read recently and also by several conversations I have had in the last few weeks.
I live in a community that values children. It seems that starting a family young is the expected norm here, much as it is in many communities. I am also of an age where most of my friends, acquaintances, and coworkers are starting or continuing their families. This means that I am in a cultural place where my future as a mother becomes an occasional topic of conversation.
As much as it seems to shock many people, I am not going to have children. It isn’t simply that I’m not planning to have children or am putting it off for a later date; I have actively decided that I will not have children. I think that I’ve put more thought into my decision than most parents put into the choice to create offspring, and I’d like to share with you why.
Before we dive into my reasoning, I want to clarify something. This decision is not related to my being anti-child. I like kids, especially once they reach an age where they can tell me what they need. I like interacting with kids, I like many of the same things that kids enjoy, and I love watching kids discover the things that I am passionate about. I also like to give kids back to their parents at the end of the day.
My first reason for not wanting to have children is simply that I’m not interested in growing someone inside of me or dealing with a squally, messy infant. This is a reality that I know about myself, and one that I am willing to embrace. Changing diapers and warming bottles are not my thing, and there is nothing about pregnancy that appeals to me. This is not due to some misguided thought that pregnancy is all pain and discomfort. I have heard about the wonderful things from my friends with kids. I know women who actually enjoy being pregnant. For me, the good things don’t sound like something I need to experience, and they definitely don’t outweigh the pain and discomfort that I know are a reality of carrying another human inside of you. And as I said before, I like kids once they can tell me what they need. While I know people who love babies, once again, I am not one of them.
Beyond my lack of interest in pregnancy and babies is my unwillingness to give up the things I enjoy about my life. I know you can take kids hiking and teach them birding and travel the globe with them. I know that parents still have hobbies and jobs and lives. But I also know that having kids means making sacrifices, of time and money and energy. For many people, the sacrifices of devoting your life to another’s are more than worth it. You are welcome to call me selfish, but once again, the value does not outweigh the sacrifice to me. (For basically the same reason, I will not be getting another dog when Eli eventually passes away.)
On top of the bodily and self-serving reasons, there is the reality of global population growth. This world does not need more people in it, and producing a new American means adding one more unsustainable footprint to our already burdened globe. Even if I was intrigued by pregnancy and eager to divert my life into a child’s, I would still question the decision based on this reality. What right do I have to add to the environmental problems of future generations? Do I really want to bring someone into the world who is going to contribute to and ultimately have to face the climate and water and food crises to come?
I enjoy my life. I find my work and my writing to be fulfilling, and the people around me to be a source of support and guidance. There is no hole in my life that can only be filled by a baby, no ticking clock or burning desire to bring a new life into this world. I know that this makes me strange in a world of infants and families, but I am content with my decision and know that I am making the right one for me.