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No Baby, No Problem: Why It's OK To Not Want Children

The freedom to choose should be respected by the same people who made a choice to have a child.

Her Voice

At the tender age of 32, I've decided that having children isn't something on my bucket list that I want to achieve. Honestly, it never really has been. Of course, when you're a teenager you daydream about marrying, and having a child with your crush in history class, but as I've gotten older, I'm starting to realize that being a mother isn't in the cards for me. One of my favorite podcasts to listen to while at work is Small Doses with Amanda Seales. I happen to scroll through certain episodes and click on the ones that speak the most to me. On November 28, 2018, she had an episode titled: "Side Effects of Not Having Kids".

What she was explaining to the listener is that we as women have a choice. It is our natural choice to say on one hand you want a child, and then completely change your mind two days later. The freedom to choose should be respected by the same people who made a choice to have a child.

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Let's start with a little background.

I am the oldest of four. I have two sisters and a brother. My mother and I have made a verbal/non-verbal agreement that her kids are my kids. No matter what, I'm the next matriarch in charge. As a child, I took being a big sister seriously. I wanted to change the diapers, feed them, change them, bathe them, and sleep next to them. If being a big sister was a career, I think I would be retired by now, vacationing in the Bahamas. Subconsciously, I knew that my younger siblings watched every move I made. I was their leader. When I got older, I couldn't wait to babysit.

Everything was second nature to me when it came to tending to my siblings, or anyone else's children. Back then, I had fun. It was set in stone in high school that I wanted twins and that that would be final. But as I started to see my peers become mothers at an early age, it changed my perspective on if that was what I really wanted.

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The tiny glimmer of baby fever came when I found out my lovely sister was pregnant with my niece. The growing baby bump and being in the delivery room really made me reconsider that notion. Once seeing the tip of that baby's head comes in contact with the doctor's hands, my dream quickly dissipated. As I've gotten older, I'm starting to see my purpose in life. My nurturing has always come from a place of love. It warms my heart to see children grow right from our very eyes. To hear them speak, laugh, and have this thirst for knowledge has always made me enthusiastic. During my babysitting days, one of the things that I might have enjoyed too much after a long day is returning the child to its biological parent(s).

Deciding to become a parent should be taken seriously. I'm sure half of the U.S. population were "oops babies". We were not planned.

In a scientific sense, you have to examine your family pathology just like you would reveal to your doctor your family history. Who are the deadbeats in the family? What is your relationship like with your parents or other family members? Was there any kind of domestic abuse in the family? Did you grow up in a family of scholars? Most of those characteristics are a part of our DNA. Am I willing to pass down my "mess" to an innocent child? I love children too much to take that kind of risk. Will my child be depressed like me? Will my child have to endure scoliosis like me? What about missing a finger or a toe? That would be selfish of me to do that.

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Granted, we all have problems and issues within us and amongst family and friends. I'm sure there are a lot of issues that need to be dealt with–they are also issues we probably don't know exist within us. I'm all for doing the work, correcting your wrongs, telling yourself what you are willing, or not willing, to do. Sorting through your own parents' parenting techniques and making sure you choose the ones that were beneficial to you to pass on. Having a child isn't like going to the drive-thru and ordering the number one with extra cheese. Once the child is here inhaling this polluted air, you can't shove him or her back up your birth canal. What's done is done at that point. Those were the things I would think about at eighteen and nineteen years old. I never thought about the cute baby clothes or the child's first birthday party.

The hesitation that I have is, will this child be screwed up before he or she can even say, "Mama".

I want to thank my own mother for not pressuring me to gift her with grandkids. Luckily, that was never a priority she pushed on me personally. The only thing that was said that confused me was, "When you find someone you love that might change." Which brings me back to the Amanda Seales podcast. It was one thing she said that really went straight to the point of how I always felt. She states: "[Somehow] this penis is going be so persuasive I would all of a sudden want a kid." Me being headstrong would not allow a man to convince me that my womb needs to be occupied.

As I've gotten older, I've created a list of five reasons as to why I don't want kids:

First, the fact that I might "lose myself" scares the hell out of me.

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I'm putting in all of this work to align my chakras and to find out who I am, but risk losing it again once a child is here. All of one's energy is orbited around the child. After a while, I can only imagine how a mother can put her interests and hobbies on the backburner. You forget what makes you happy, and what brings you joy and peace. The question I want to propose is, if you've lost yourself, how do you think your child would interpret that? As a mother, do you think your child will love you more or less? So, let me get this straight. You lost yourself, but at the same time, you are encouraging your children to find themselves? When does "leading by example" come in?

Second, these mixed emotions that mothers have about their children.

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One minute they discuss how the pregnancy was terrible, equipped with swollen ankles, and stretch marks; but in the same breath, they'll state the "children are a blessing". The horror stories about labor, vomiting, nausea, and going to the restroom every three minutes because of a six-pound baby putting pressure on their bladder. I haven't heard a woman say that they've enjoyed the process from start to finish. What made it all "worth it"? As of right now, I don't see it.

Third, at the age of 19, I had some sort of a revelation that out of all of my sisters, I would be the one with fertility problems.

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At the time, I didn't know much about infertility, IVF or adoption–all I knew was that I would be the chosen one to endure infertility. Fast forward to 2016, it was discovered that I have a fibroid. According to UCLA Health, fibroids are more common in African American women. After my endless Google searches about fibroids, the stories I did come across explained that conceiving a child is, and has been, difficult. The endless doctors' visits and pelvic examinations can make any woman wanting a child go insane. I personally don't want to endure the heartache most women feel trying to get pregnant. Directing you to paragraph one of this article "being a mother isn't in the cards for me". I've lived with this body for almost 33 years. I have a clear sense of what it is capable of doing at this moment. Having children isn't one of them.

Fourth, I'm selfish.

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Not the "I want all eyes on me selfish". Or the selfish that loves receiving, but not giving. I'm talking about being selfish with my time, my money and my freedom. I love waking up and going to bed when I want, I love eating what I want. I love doing what I want. I'm on nobody else's schedule but my own, and I really enjoy that space. I can always focus on becoming a better me. I would rather volunteer my time to five children than to focus and care for one. I believe I'm more powerful in that way. Leaving an everlasting impression on children/adults, is how I leave my mark on the world. At this point in time, I'm not willing to give up my freedom.

Lastly, I'm more excited and joyful meeting a man to marry, rather than figuring out if he would be a great father.

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My dream is to have a companion and to spend the rest of my life with one companion. Stepchildren, I will always welcome, because again I can return to sender. The fact I can marry someone who stepped up to be "my person" is so much more joyful to me. We would experience freedom.

Whatever was the norm in your household probably isn't the norm. It's the card you were dealt, and you decided to care for and love that card. Maybe I don't want to do what he, she, or they did. Maybe I'm comfortable living this life I have now. Dealing with depression is almost like a two-year-old child you have to tame. The whole point of this piece is to let women know that it's OK if you don't want children. You are not odd or weird. Not having children doesn't make you less of a woman. Being incapable of not having children doesn't make you less of a woman and that's totally fine if you change your mind about it in the future. Children aren't my priority. My mind, body, and soul are. Being love, giving love, and walking in love is a priority.

Article originally published on Vocal Media

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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