I’m near the Kurig at my office job, and my coworkers are talking about their children. I casually listen, waiting for an in for me to talk about my impending niece, who’s due in a couple weeks. My knowledge of kids is limited, so I stir my coffee and keep mum when that doesn’t happen.
“What about you, Jess?” My colleague asks, “Any dates recently? Have you met the guy yet?”
Another colleague chimes in something about KNOWING when you meet the guy.
“No dates, no men, “ I reply. “And I don’t want kids, anyway.”
Just tossing this out there, not wanting kids totally takes off the pressure of a timeline for shaking up. I could meet the dude whenever, be it tomorrow or ten years from now and not have to consider fertility treatments or the likelihood of Autism or birth defects. No work for you, little uterus; your next big event will be menopause.
“Well you just haven’t met the guy, that’s why you don’t want to have kids YET.” My colleague replies, completely disregarding my boss sitting next to her who met the guy, married him, and opted for dogs instead.
“Maybe,” I said. I know she meant well but I didn’t feel like continuing my involvement in the conversation. I was done defending myself on the topic.
Truth is, I’m an emotional, warm person by nature. I always saw myself being the type to get married, have kids, own a house etc. Then I got the chance to get the ball rolling. The man I had dated for two years wanted to move in, and eventually get married and have kids. I should have been thrilled, but every bone in my body met the choice with a resounding “NO!” I thought there was something wrong with me.
We ending up breaking up because while I didn’t know what I wanted, I figured out I didn’t want that.
As the years went on I realized I wanted kids less, and it had nothing to do with my romantic life and everything to do with knowing that all of the dreams I started to have for myself would be a thousand times harder to attain if I were a parent. Slowly, the house in the ‘burbs of years past turned into a loft in the city, the idea of marriage turned into a happy relationship, the time spent child rearing became late nights writing and trips abroad. The woman I was becoming was outgrowing the idea of motherhood and growing into what I personally found more rewarding for my own life. Furthermore, I was able to make a world of progress as myself without needing a man to complete the process.
I was completely enamored with this idea of self until every time I had to defend it.
“You don’t know love until you have kids.” People would say. “Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?” “What will you pass on to the world?”
I honestly considered giving out a Q&A card to anyone who would say such things. I grew sick of hearing myself talk about it. I didn’t understand people giving me grief over not having babies, especially considering I wasn’t giving anyone grief about wanting them.
“You want to get married and have kids? Cool. I don’t. What’s your favorite beer at this bar?”
It’s a non-issue perpetuated by this idea that one must acquire certain things to level up in adulthood and be happy. Truth is, happiness is a personal experience, as is fulfillment, sadness, and everything else about being human. It’s tailored to you, and that’s a great thing.
A week before I got the call that my mom was dying from the cancer she informed me she had three weeks prior, in a phone call she said in the soft voice she didn’t speak in often,
“My only regret is that I might not get to meet your children.”
“Neither will I, Mum. I’m not having them,” I replied.
She grew quiet as if to digest the piece of info.
“Well, Lulu” she said, calling me the pet name I’ve had since I was a baby, “then you get out of Boston, see the world, write as much as possible and be the person you always were, but were just to afraid to be.”
That’s exactly what I’m doing and intend to keep on doing. I will know love in my own way. I will be content with my own happily childless path.
I still might print those Q&A cards, you know, to spare myself any awkward coffee break small talk.