I have never wanted to have children; until recent years, I didn’t even like them. Even now I mostly don’t notice them unless they are bothering me, or you are fussing over them when I am trying to converse with you, and I’m becoming frustrated because of your (admittedly understandable) divided attention. And just because I’m becoming more comfortable around them, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to suddenly want one for my very own. I have many, many reasons for not wanting children – every interaction with a parent puts more reasons in my list – but the most important one is this:
I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN.
Not at all, in any way, shape, or form; and until it’s a “yes”, it’s a “no”. I have felt this way all my life, and at 37, I just don’t think that’s going to change, despite all the well-meaning people who assure me otherwise. Thank you for believing that I’d be a wonderful parent; that’s not the issue, though, and if being a wonderful parent were a criteria for reproduction, the world’s population would be far smaller. It has taken many years for me to finally accept that to not have children is a perfectly allowable desire, and that I can relax about it. Most of the time people are supportive and respectful; some even recognise the value one can have in being a role model to kids, without needing to have some to qualify.
To those who can’t comprehend how anyone could adamantly not want children, I suggest they take that passion they feel, and try to see that I feel exactly the same way in reverse: I cannot comprehend how anyone could want children. Literally. I understand that it is a natural desire for many – or rather, most – people to want to have children, but for me that desire is utterly absent.
I have seen friends who have had wonderful, rewarding relationships with their kids; friends who have had harrowing experiences with Post Natal Depression; friends with pregnancy complications, some of which have ended well, and some not; friends who have struggled to conceive, and then, if they were blessed with a pregnancy, to have their hopes shattered by loss; friends who have raised their children into wonderful adults, only to have them taken from them in death. Their dedication and courage is commendable. I am a friend, too, with a story of family that’s equally unique and deserving of respect.
I have a family unit under one roof that includes two adult humans and four four-legged pets; our pets are not substitutes for children (a notion that’s as ridiculous as suggesting a child is a pet-substitute), but they are valued family members that make our lives more comfortable and interesting. The great thing about our pets is that we can tie or lock them up and leave them for a while without much suffering; and when they die, we grieve for a bit, then get a replacement. Simple. I’m not saying that all pets are not child substitutes, just that ours are not.
Obviously, this is still a controversial issue, even though we live in a time when unprotected sex need not be irrevocably connected to pregnancy, and women are valued for far more than the bearers of the next generation – which is an undeniably valid role of utmost importance. Despite the understanding that My Good Man and I are united in our decision to not have children, there are still times when that decision is questioned by others. It always comes as an unexpected surprise, and it hurts.
Maybe by reading this, some of our friends who do not understand or agree with our decision will come to understand, or at least respect, it.
If you got through reading all this, thank you. Feel free to comment, but please keep it respectful – People are fragile things, you should know by now, be careful what you put them through (from a lyric by The Editors).