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.

4 comments:

  1. Yay! I LOVE this entry!
    Childfree is awesome, you're one of many friends I have who are childfree, and love it.
    It's who you are - that said, I do hope I'm not making you 'feel sick' all the time! :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course not! I didn't mean that motherhood makes me sick, more just thinking about the permanence of having that first kid. Besides, you were already a mom when I met you. Plus you're definitely one of those people who I'm glad has kids, it seems like it comes very natural to you. :)

      Delete
  2. Hi Jaime, Do you have an email address I can access to send you some information about some upcoming events in Iqaluit, Nunavut from Toronto, ON you may interested in blogging about?

    Thanks,
    Sarah Smith
    Smash Wrestling

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not really interested but thanks for asking.

      Delete

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