“I have come to the full-on decision, Dad, that I don’t think I’m going to have kids. Ever. It’s just not me,” I said to my father, slowly, anticipating the But-I-need-more-grandchildren! response. Both of my parents have always communicated this idea that life is much more valid with children. I happen to find it much more valid with free time, quiet, a flexible schedule, and only one giant, stubborn ego to battle with (my own). So, agreeing to disagree has been the name of the game.
Steve’s response was this: “That’s fine. Kids aren’t for everyone. Besides, you’re too old to start having kids now, anyway.” Totally serious. Whaaaa? If this is some sort of reverse psychological move, this attacking my age, in order to trick me into having a child, consider yourself denied, Pop. BOOM. DENIED. But no, he was serious. I don’t know what motivated this change in thought, but I’d venture to guess that these proclamations of desiring a child-free life carry more weight coming from your 30 year old daughter, rather than that same daughter at 20. Life is a bit more figured out, you know who you are. I think he recognizes that.
It just doesn’t seem like anyone else recognizes that. I have entered the space in my life where, when talking to someone that happens to be a parent, I hear-“So, when are you going to have a little one?”, “Time’s ticking!”, or “Don’t you want one of your own?”, almost weekly. I DO have one of my own. She weighs 80lbs, sheds hair all over my house, eats paper towels, and chews my glasses under the dining room table. That’s enough for me. As much as I like to say that this incessant focus on children doesn’t bother me, it does. I don’t like being made to feel bad, or somehow selfish, for not wanting children.
Look, I love kids. Adore them, even. And because I love kids, I elect not to have any, because I also love my life, and it’s a life that isn’t conducive to properly nuturing and raising a child, at this juncture. It’s something I never envisioned myself doing, and I just don’t know if I have the capacity to be THAT responsible for someone else. Whenever I encounter a tantrum-throwing toddler, my anxiety instantly ratches up to 1000%, and then I hear the inevitable, “Yeah, but it’s different when it’s your own child.” This isn’t a comforting thought for me, because all I hear is, “Yeah, but it’s WORSE when it’s your own child, because you can’t safely give it back and walk away.”
I know the response that this is going to elicit in some people, and so, what I need to make clear is that I am in no way saying that choosing to have children, and raise a family is a somehow less valid way of life. I respect and admire people who choose to be parents, and are doing amazing jobs at cultivating these outstanding, loving, socially-responsible little people. I think it’s one of (if not the most)important roles that people will ever play in life, and also one of the hardest. I, on the other hand, cannot even properly iron a crease into a pair of pants, let alone handle the pressure of raising well-rounded, emotionally mature children. I can, however, walk my dog semi-sporadically, feed her everyday, and forgive her (begrudgingly) for eating yet ANOTHER possession of mine (RIP, laptop power cord). I guess family looks different to everyone, and the one we’ve created looks pretty good to me.