Super important point:
This is really just about me coming to accept something about myself. I’m not trying to express any judgment of the decisions or opinions of others on the topic of parenthood.
Okay, I’ll go on.
My whole life I’ve thought I didn’t want kids. I told friends, family, and anyone who asked that I didn’t want kids. I learned to add, “But you know, I know I might change my mind when I’m older.” Most girls wanted kids and most adults I knew were parents. The addition’s purpose was to preemptively fend off comments like:
“You’ll encounter the pull of motherhood someday.”
“You’ll change your mind after you marry someone you love.”
“My kids are the most important thing in my life.”
I still got these comments anyway, but they were often shorter and sandwiched between less advice when people didn’t think I was disagreeing with them.
And after feeling the collective pressure of society’s assumptions, even when I thought to myself that I didn’t want to ever have kids, I would add, “But I know I might change my mind someday.” I tried to internalize this. I tried to honestly believe the reassurance I told everyone that I was open to changing my mind. That I might still end up normal.
When I Grow Up
I’ve spent an enormous amount of time thinking about this topic and my feelings. I’ve tried stirring my emotions to see if I could uncover a hiding drive to have children. I’ve found the strongest feelings are evoked when I imagine shaping a child’s learning experiences from the moment they are born. This is appealing, and I think I could do a great job with it, but I wouldn’t describe the feelings as any sort of pull or drive. It’s just... a curiosity.
Besides, I could always get a dog.
Now I’m 24 years old, and the pull of motherhood still hasn’t happened. I can’t keep trying to internalize that I might want kids when my views on the topic magically turn 180 degrees. I know I won’t. I know the addition I add to, “I don’t want to have kids,” isn’t true. Trying to force myself to believe it’s true is lying to myself. Lying to myself lacks the compassion I want to treat myself with.
Lying to others makes me feel uncomfortable, and refusing to answer a friendly (albeit nosy) question about future plans is socially awkward. So I will tell the truth about not wanting to ever have kids, and I won’t tack on my old disclaimer.
I won’t debate. I don’t want advice. I don’t want to be told I’m wrong or have my opinions trivialized because they don’t match those in the majority. I already know I’ll feel judged and I wish that weren’t so, but I’ll deal with it.
When it comes to choosing your own life path, your own opinions should be sovereign.
Admitting to myself that I will never have kids is a relief. I’ve discussed this with myself far more than enough. I officially give myself permission to not have to consider having children any longer. After I finish writing this, I will savor this feeling of relief for a bit.
If this topic is at all interesting to you, you might find this post by Havi Brooks to be a fun read. I completely understand everything she’s saying, but I suppose I’ve made a conscious choice about parenthood. She says it isn’t about choices for her. Oh, and she isn’t really talking about Bolivia.