Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On Not Wanting Kids

Ever since I was a little kid myself, I've known I don't want to have kids. Not being the norm in our society, I'm often met with resistance to this idea. How could I possibly not feel that maternal instinct? Don't I know it's different when they're my own? How can I not want to leave a legacy after I'm gone?


Courtesy of Anne Taintor


I've never really sat down and discussed my feelings from start to finish, so here goes.

The first time I can remember not wanting kids was winter 1995 (if it matters, I was 9). I received a beautiful doll for Christmas. It was from a line called Baby So Beautiful and I still remember the commercial, with the famous Joe Cocker song, "You Are So Beautiful." Strangely enough given my no-kids personality, I loved playing with dolls. I loved taking care of things and pretending my dolls really were my kids. My grandpa had made a lovely wooden doll crib for me and I happily tucked in "Karina" (what I named the doll) every night and took her out every morning. I loved that freakin' doll. I even had play food that I would pretend to spoon feed her. However, I distinctly remember thinking to myself at least once, "No way I'd want a real baby." I knew even then that babies were a huge responsibility and that I couldn't just shove a baby in a closet and ignore it for as long as I felt like it.

How could I possibly have felt that way at age 9, you wonder? The jury is still out on the whole nature vs. nurture thing when it comes to our personalities, but I'm starting to think the nurture part of my personality plays a bigger role than I originally assumed. It occurred to me earlier this year that my lack of interest in being a mother is probably directly linked to how frequently my parents bitched about being parents. I can't even tell you how many times my mom told me (albeit when I was being a brat) that she wished she'd never had me, she'd wish she'd never had kids, we're such a headache, she'd be so much happier without us. She probably doesn't remember saying such horrid things, but it was imprinted on me like a brandishing iron: having kids makes people unhappy.

Aww, poor Jaime, you must be thinking. You can still change your mind! Don't let your parents' thoughtless words change your mind on something so wonderful! Sure, maybe I could have, if this wasn't the narrative I was hearing my entire childhood. I never really even stood a chance at wanting kids. When I was 12 or 13, my parents each had a friend without kids. The one friend was (and is) unmarried, lives in an expensive part of Canada, takes frequent expensive vacations, and has a bunch of cats. The other friend was happily married, owned a Mercedes convertible, moved from expensive house to expensive house in Sarnia, and had a bunch of cats. I had more interaction with the latter friend and I've long considered him to be one of the strongest influences in my decision not to have kids. I saw his cushy life directly as a result of not having kids. I saw, and I liked. I liked a lot.

So now let's back up and look at the situation. As a kid, I kept hearing about what a pain in the ass kids were. Then I meet adults without kids who live seemingly glamorous, happy lives. Duh, right? 1 + 1 = 2. People with kids: unhappy. People without kids: rich and happy. Impressionable, indeed I was, and can you really blame me for coming to the conclusion that having kids is a bad idea?

Once I realized these driving factors in my choice not to have kids, I considerably relaxed about the whole thing. I have the tendency to over-analyze my personality and the choices I make in life. Whether to have kids has always been at the front of my mind for no other reason than to constantly reassess if I still feel the same. I would hate to get to my late 30s, give it some thought for the first time in a decade, and realize, Hey, maybe I do want kids? Oops, too late. It's something I give constant thought to, but admittedly, the older I get, the less I want kids. Most women my age would say that seeing their friends have kids plants the envy seed in them. For me, it's the opposite feeling. Every time a friend of mine has kids, I almost feel sick. When I inevitably see their first photos of them with the baby, it's like they're a whole different person. It freaks me out. I know it sounds weird or crazy, but the idea that you can never go back after having a baby scares the hell out of me. Despite the fact I have numerous tattoos, making the permanent decision to have a kid makes me feel queasy.

And then of course, people want to argue with me about it. If I feel sick to my stomach when I think about having kids, maybe I'm not such a great candidate for the whole parent thing. If I've lived my entire life not wanting kids, why do you think you're going to change my mind? I've never understood why people push the childfree to reconsider. It's like pushing gay people to be straight. Come on, if only you knew! It's different when it's you! You don't know what you want, you just haven't tried [x]. I'm sure if you tried, you'd love it.

I really hope nothing in this blog post comes across as me saying, "It's stupid to have kids," because I honestly don't think that. Despite how I was raised, I recognize the fact that having kids brings unspeakable happiness and fulfillment to people. Really, I'm glad for people who feel driven to have kids and then do (or adopt). The world should be filled with more parents who want to be parents. The world would not be better off if someone like me had kids. I would not be a good parent. I might not forget about my child for days on end like my frequent nightmares suggest I would, but I would not be happy. I wouldn't do right by the child, I would not be the best parent I could be. And really, why would I have kids if it's not something I've longed for my whole life?

Just for the record, yes, I do realize at some point in time, I might feel differently. That's why I'm not running out and getting my tubes tied. Although I think it's possible I COULD change my mind, I really, honestly don't see it changing. It's been the one constant opinion I've had my whole life. As well, the older I get, the more content and sure about I feel. It's like a comfy chair that just keeps getting more comfy.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Changing Perspectives

My brain's been scattered lately, hence the lack of posts. I currently have 4 draft posts in the works since I keep starting entries and not finishing them. Maybe this one will stick.

 The one consistent thing I've been think about lately is how my perspective on things are changing lately.

 On Christmas 2010, I nearly hit 3 deer that ran out in the road in front of me. It was extremely fortunate I didn't hit them, and I have no doubt I was mere inches from certain death. I decided at some point shortly thereafter that I owed the world big time for not dying that day, so I started donating blood regularly (and I still do).

In August, I had a similar experience again. Anthony and I were headed up Lake Huron for our first solo weekend away in over a year. Right before we got to our destination, we were about 5 seconds behind a double fatal collision. Of course, we got out and tried to help, but there wasn't much to be done. The experience reminded me of why it's so critically important to donate blood. I felt like I needed to do more; donating blood isn't enough. I forget how, but I ended up stumbling upon One Match, the bone marrow donor database in Canada. I signed up right away. Of the few people I've told that I've signed up to be a bone marrow donor, everybody has said, "Ouch, donating bone marrow hurts like an [expletive]." My response? The same as my decision to donate blood: "Hurts a lot less than dying needing bone marrow and not having a donor."

Ignoring all the other ways witnessing a gruesome accident seriously messes you up, I've also started changing my perspective on driving. I'm trying to slow down, look around more, be more safe. Of course, I already think I'm a good driver (who doesn't?) but there's room for improvement with everybody.

 ***

I'm also in the process of trying to lose a few pounds again. I lost a bunch of weight back in 2009 but it has slowly crept back up on me, especially now that I live in the southern world of fast food, bakeries, stadiums, bars and restaurants. Spending weekends in the restaurant mecca that is Ann Arbor doesn't help, either. Anthony and I love to go out for meals and despite our active lifestyles, it's catching up on us.

I've always had this dumb half-assumption that because I'm not technically overweight, it would be really difficult for me to lose weight. I'm not sure why, I guess I always felt like being not skinny but not fat meant this is just how my body wants it to be. It was probably an easy way to pass off the blame for my terrible eating habits.

Anthony and I decided to start a little weight loss bet and it's turned up my competitive streak! I always said I would never do a low carb diet because I'm addicted to bread, bagels, and cake. Then I saw some photos of people my height and weight who went low carb and lost a ton of weight. I decided I'd give it a try and so far, it's going much better than I thought it would. I don't think about carb-y food at all, I'm not tempted, and I'm not craving anything. I think it's actually a really good thing for me, because now I can't rely on the same old meals, I have to learn to make some new things.

I'll try to post some of my progress since I know people like reading that sort of thing. No photos yet, I'm not that brave!

Here's what we have to start:

Start of weight loss bet: August 26th

Weight: 150lbs
(Height 5'5.5")
Measurements: ??? (didn't take them)

Start of low carb: September 5th
Weight: 148lbs
Measurements:
B: 36"
W: 31"
H: 39"
Thigh: 24.5"

I'm not going to do another progress check until October 6th, but I am down to 143lbs today (Sept. 14).

Oh, and about the bet...I have to be down to 140lbs by September 30th to beat Anthony. So far, I'm closer to my goal than he is to his, so we'll see. The loser has to take the winner out to whatever dinner they want. I have no idea what I'll pick if I win, because now it has to be low carb!

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