I have always, for as long as I can remember, dreamed of having kids. I have a long list of names and I know that I want a boy first, then a girl. I want them to be born no more than two years apart so that they can share friends and experiences. I always wondered what kind of mother I would be. I think I would be one that gave tough love, like my mom did. I want to tell them that Santa isn’t real, but to respect that the other kids don’t know that yet. Will they sunburn? (I really, really hope not.) I wonder if they’ll have my eyes, or if they will want to carry the world’s heartache in their hands like I do.
I want to show my kids more affection than I received growing up. I want to hug my daughter before she sleeps and I want to never let her forget that she is beautiful. I never want her to hate her body and I’ll never let her believe that she doesn’t deserve an opinion because she is a little chubby. I want to be a (seemingly) nonjudgmental listener. I won’t point out flaws while she bares her soul to me. I will tell my son to always offer to walk his female friends to their cars at night and to never to force his presence onto a girl who clearly is not interested. I’ll tell him to watch out for the signs that a girl might like him, and that if he doesn’t feel the same way, to be kind and never give her the wrong idea. I want to give them both the confidence to stand up for the underdog, regardless of the consequences.
Why, then, do I refuse to have the kids I so badly want?
Thinking about the pain that will accompany their childhoods is too much to bear. I have a list of worries that floods my thoughts more than this 21 year old likes to admit. I don’t want them to feel the pain that comes with living. What if my son is Autistic and bullied for it? What if my daughter’s best friend dies of leukemia before her time? What if his prom date stands him up and the insecurity that resulted from that cruel act never leaves? What if, by the time they’re alive, cell phones have taken over completely and dinners to catch up with friends from high school become old friends sitting around a table, glued to their phones? What about the other things? Unrequited love, wanting them to have a relationship with God, hoping they care enough about the world to try and help people? What if they graduate college in debt and question their worth when they can’t find a job?
My fears are endless and are only exacerbated by watching or reading the news. I cannot hear about school shootings and movie theater shootings and marathon bombings without thinking about the state of our world, and wanting to have some control over who gets hurt. It’s like I’m trying to protect them from a world they haven’t seen yet.
I realize how insane I must sound. This isn’t written by a girl who has lived a rough life — I know how much beauty and love is in this world because I have seen it. And no matter my fears, I hope that I live to see things that will change my mind.
At this point in my life, I believe that bringing children into this world would be selfish of me. I don’t know if I can handle the guilt that will come when the first person they love shatters their heart, or when their closest friend moves away and they can’t find another, or when the man who says he loves her proves it by beating her senseless. Although there is almost nothing I have ever wanted more than to be a mother, I am not (at this present point in my life) brave enough to handle bringing children into this world and subjecting them to grief that comes with it.