I don’t want to be a mother. There. I said it.
Did the world stop spinning? Did a massive hurricane appear somewhere? Or maybe most pressing, did I suddenly become a lonely spinster destined to die alone?
When I was a young girl, I remember thinking that I would graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree by the time I was 20 (I started school at an early age), get an Msc at 22 and a PHD by 24. Then, I would allot myself two years to begin my career and fall in love. At 26 I would get married and have my first child when I was 27.
Wasn’t I quite the naïve little optimist, thinking that life was so straightforward, so linear, so… resolute? That’s how I always saw my life and, mind you, when I was 10 years old, it didn’t bother me one bit. I was excited and happy that I had a clear-cut, fool proof plan to follow. It seemed like the right thing to do and that was all I needed to be happy.
Then, as I got older, I started questioning certain things, as one does. Actually, when I was about 19 I told myself that I didn’t want to get married. I’m not going to go into that right now, as that’s an entirely different post. However, at some point I came to the realisation that I don’t want children.
I can’t say that I’m bad with kids. If I try, I can be very charming and they don’t naturally hate me, I think. I find though, that I’m much more comfortable with babies. I actually really like them from birth to about a year and a half. Once the terrible twos kick in and for the next six to eight years after, I just can’t really deal with them.
But you see, that’s not the main issue here. I don’t hate children. Children don’t hate me. The truth is, I simply don’t have the desire to be a mother, to devote my life so selflessly to another human being, even one that is half of me. It’s as simple as that. Not everyone has that longing. I want to travel, I want to further my education, I want to come home and simply be able to lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling for hours at a time, if that’s what I feel like doing that day.
I don’t want to come back home after work to have to cook for another mouth and then also feed it. I want to take bubble baths not give them. I want to read a novel or binge watch a good show, not turn on Nick Jr. I want to use my income on things that I want and save the rest for when I’m 60 years old. I don’t want to build a college fund for someone else. Heck, if I had it my way, I would need my own college fund to continue studying for the rest of my life.
Some people might call that being selfish, others might call it typical for a twenty something year old who is trying to find a way to be independent. Naturally, there are questions, little questions that make the people saying it feel ever so clever:
- “What about when you’re 50 years old and lonely?”
- “What about when your husband dies and you need the emotional support?”
- “What will you do when you want company? All of your friends will have their families and won’t have time to be with you all the time.”
A round of applause for these people, please. Yes, your condescending questions will definitely change my mind in the two seconds it takes for me to contemplate them. I’m not saying that I’m not open to talking about why I don’t want children. Actually, if someone is truly interested, I think it makes for a great conversation, especially if the other person does want to have children. There’s a way to do it, however, and those remarks are not the way.
Also, yes, I am very young. I do have my entire life ahead of me. I definitely don’t want to get pregnant and have a child at this point in my life. I’m still trying to figure out the most basic of things like, where will I get the funding to continue my education? Will I get hired? What do I even really want to do with my time? Where do I want to live? Why can’t I lose those extra 5 pounds? Should I have an extra glass of wine? Do I really like that guy or is it just his smile? From important to trivial matters, it’s safe to say that I haven’t had most of the life experiences that I plan on having.
However, this isn’t me saying that I don’t want to get pregnant now. That goes without saying. What I mean is that when I imagine what my life will look like, the things I will achieve, the apartment and city I’ll live in, the people I’ll be with, the love I’ll have and the adventures that will sprinkle my life with endless emotions, I never see children. When I think of those individual nights, the ones that usually get swallowed up by the monster that is time, the “irrelevant” ones as some may refer to them, where nothing particularly extraordinary happens, I don’t see myself cuddled up with a daughter or a son on the sofa. When I think about retiring, at 60 years old, riding a bike through a quaint street or having a picnic on the beach, I don’t see myself surrounded by my then adult children or hear a couple of grandchildren chattering and screaming like children do.
Two more issues are left, then. What if, eventually, I change my mind and decide that I do want children? Oh the horror, right? After all, I already proclaimed to the world that I don’t want any. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing? Even more daunting, what if I realise it when I’m 45 and can’t have children any more? Wouldn’t it be better to have children while I can, just to ensure that I don’t have any regrets later on? After all, being a mother is one of the greatest joys in life, isn’t it?
First of all, I’m aware that in a few years I might have a change of opinion. That’s what people do. That is basic human nature. We grow, we experience new things, and our opinions are moulded by time and change. I don’t fear it. If there ever comes a time when I do want children, then I’ll figure it out at that point. I won’t feel embarrassed and I won’t close myself off to that desire simply because of “what people might say” or think, or to simply adhere to a frame of mind that I had when I was 22. I don’t want my way of thinking to change that radically, of course. Like I mentioned, I often visualise where I want to be in three, five, ten and even twenty years from now. I like what I see and I don’t see children. However, if that vision were to change over time, I know it will be because of my own desires. If what I desire eventually is children, then I’m sure I will take the necessary time to think it over and make a rational decision that will make me happy. More than that, I will have that child and raise him/her/them with all the love and care possible because I will want to, with all my heart.
Now unto the last question: Wouldn’t it be better to have children while I can, in order to ensure that I don’t have any regrets later on? Absolutely not. Believe it or not, I have had this suggested to me before.
I would never do that to another human being. I’m not a “motherly” person. I lack that gene and I want my independence. What if I had children, only to realise that I was right and it was definitely not what I truly wanted? What then? I know that I would never mistreat an innocent child, due to the simple fact that it’s another human being. Actually, I would want to be the kind of mother that my mom was to my brother and me. The problem, in that case, is that I would want to put him or her above anything and anyone, simply because it would be the right thing to do, not because I would truly want it. In doing so, I would make myself unhappy trying to give them the life they deserve while knowing that what they really deserve is someone who desires them over everything else. One does not gamble on another’s life. It’s simply not done. I would never have a child in order to see if it’s what I want or not.
So, what is it that I am trying to get across? Simply put, I’m trying to get you to understand my point of view, and the point of view of many other women and men that share it. Motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood, they are all completely different experiences to everyone. It may be seen now as the traditional, clear-cut, “respectable” rite of passage that every man and, especially, woman, must go through, but it shouldn’t be. Reproduction was a process of survival in the past but the human race is no longer on the brink of extinction. Actually, overpopulation is the real issue nowadays.
Respect is the key word here. I’ve shared my thoughts. You can share yours. But it’s all about respecting others’ perspectives and opinions, and knowing that everyone is free to choose what they want.