I am not sure if I want to have kids or not. I like kids, especially between the ages of 2-8 because they are naturally very curious so they are really fun to talk to, they can teach you a lot about seeing things with a beginner’s mind. But, my first duty in my life is to myself, and I can’t have kids until I know I’m not going to disappear into them. If I feel comfortable that I can hire help or do what I need to do to preserve my life, and it feels right, I might do it — but if it doesn’t happen, it will be because I simply had other things I valued more. That’s how life works, you don’t get to do everything, but you do get to do the things that matter to you.
What I don’t like about having this opinion is the cheesey used car salesman arguments people use to tell my my priorities are off. Your biological clock is ticking! Yeah, it is. But that’s like saying “this car you aren’t sure if you want is almost going to be sold to someone else!” To say “well, I don’t want to miss out so I better just buy this car I’m unsure about” is to make a decision based on fear.
Humans make really shitty decisions when we make them out of fear. When we are afraid, we become risk averse. That is, we become afraid to live the life we really want in order to play it safe and live the one that seemingly has the least regrets. Do you know what people regret on their deathbeds? The most common regret is a big, fat, juicy shout-out to not making fear-based decisions, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Nothing is guaranteed in life, not everyone gets a deathbed, not everyone’s kids outlive them, not everyone’s kids even visit them that often when they’re grown. What I’m saying is, you can’t count on other people to give our life meaning, to occupy you so that you don’t worry about your mortality or whether your life was meaningful. Make it meaningful. Instead of taking an action based on a fear, address the fear and work through it, and then freely make a decision based on your wisdom.
As an aside here to hopefully alleviate some people’s fear surrounding being old and sad — I used to volunteer at an elder care facility. Every week I would check in with the chaplain to see who needed someone to visit them (i.e., who was struggling or unhappy or lonely). It wasn’t the depressing old ladies who didn’t have family that needed visitors, to my own surprise, the chaplain explained this to me early on that people who’s spouse had died early in life or couples without kids generally did well, because they were used to making an effort to make friends and engaging in the home’s social schedule. What made a difference in the kind of people who did well and the kind of people who did not was whether they knew how to make themselves happy, it’s the same people who are happy during any other period of life.
I’m not arguing against having kids, I’m just saying FOMO isn’t a good reason to have them. Your life doesn’t feel full just because you make decisions that make it full for a lot of other people. Your life feels full when you make decisions based on your own wants and needs.