My typical conversation on childbearing:
Nosy person: “You’ll be a great mom someday!” *eyes twinkling with thoughts of babies*
Me: Thanks! I don’t want kids, though.
NP: Oh, sure you do! (Translation: “Normal people want kids!”)
Me: No, I really don’t. To me, the sound of a screaming kid in a Target store is like an alarm to evacuate the building.
NP: *eye twinkles burst, and are replaced with dilated pupils* Ohhh. (Translation: “Ohhh. YOU’RE A SOCIOPATH.”)
Slight exaggeration, but not really.
Even as a little girl, I never wanted kids. I aspired to be Angela Bower on Who’s The Boss, except it would be only me living in a Connecticut Colonial with a handsome, Italian housekeeper from New Jersey. Dang. That’s still my dream.
As a teenager, those ambivalent feelings about being a future parent persisted. I thought I’d grow out of it. I didn’t.
Now that I’m an adult, I’m 100% okay with this. Truthfully, I love kids. I think they’re wonderful even though a 7-year-old boy at Starbucks once pointed his toy gun at me and kept yelling, “DIE! DIE! DIE!” I could actually feel my ovaries shutting themselves off.
Here are a few things I’ve discovered on my journey:
Don’t feel horrible about it.
People, even well-meaning ones, love to sprinkle guilt on an otherwise happy sundae that is your life. They may try to dump a steaming heap of “But having kids is what you’re supposed to do!” on you, causing you to second guess yourself. Please don’t. You know your heart better than anyone else. The desire to have children is deep and genuine and can’t be forced or manufactured. So don’t. You be you.
BUT, Don’t be an obnoxious jerk about it.
Even though your eyes may glaze over when your friends start talking about potty training their toddlers, this doesn’t give you the right to gloat about how much you cherish sleeping in late, or wearing clothes that haven’t been defecated on.
Remember: Your friends love their children as much as you love not having any. It doesn’t make either of you better, or even happier than the other. It’s about different life choices.
Be honest with yourself and others.
This one is really key. You may be absolutely positive about not having kids, or sitting on the fence about it. It’s okay. But, if you’re an adult who’s in the dating scene or even married, it’s important to be open and truthful about your feelings with the other person. Real communication is vital, especially when it’s a huge decision about making more yous.
When I date I guy, I make it clear early on that I’m pretty adamant about my decision to not raise children. Either he’s okay with it, or we both decide to move on. Everyone’s on their own path. Make sure you’re both heading in the same direction.
Be someone’s mentor.
Before you throw yourself a party to celebrate a life free of parental responsibility, hold on! Don’t spend your life focusing on your own needs 24/7. Even though you may not raise your own kids, it’s important to invest some time, love, and encouragement in the next generation.
Deep thought: In the end, the valuable things we leave behind are relationships, not stuff.
(I know this is solid advice. Saw it on a cross-stitch on Etsy.)
I suggest spending regular time volunteering in a program that supports kids (or adults, if you really don’t like kids) who need a positive mentor in their lives. Also, if you have siblings with children, being an aunt or uncle seems like the perfect thing, really: Shower your niece or nephew with love. Load them up on sugar at Pink Berry. Take them to jump on inflatables. Feed them sno-cones sprinkled with extra sugar and then send them home to their parents. Perfect, right?
Volunteering your free time to help others is awesome, because morphing into a self-focused oompa loompa is a very easy, but unsightly thing to do.
Be open to changing your mind someday.
I don’t use the words, “I’LL NEVER. . .” in my vocabulary.
Circumstances and opinions can change in life, and you have to be open to that. At this very moment, you may have a 100% I’m-ready-to-get-the-tattoo-and-etch-it-in-stone stance on not wanting to have kids. However, you might find yourself feeling differently one day. If so, don’t disregard it just because it’s not how you’ve felt in the past.
For me, I don’t want the responsibility of raising another human. But, who knows? Maybe I’ll marry an Italian guy and we’ll adopt a little boy from Korea, name him Sam, dress him in bow ties, and make him listen to Radiohead on vinyl.
Seriously, though. Be flexible.
So, hey. You’ve been on this planet for a while. By now you’ve realized there’s no set pattern we all have to follow. Not wanting to have kids does not mean you’re selfish, weird, or a heartless sociopath. It means you’ve made a different life choice that fits you. Also, having kids does not make a family “complete” or even make a person feel fulfilled. I know both single people and married couples at different stages in life who don’t have kids, and they are perfectly happy and complete.