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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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