Today I read an article on a woman who at 42 did not “yet” have kids. I was hoping the article’s message was positive: Here was finally someone who didn’t reinforce the societal norm of women wanting children because of their ticking biological clocks.
It offered none of that. The woman’s perspective was that she never found the right man and thus decided it just wasn’t going to happen for her. Her support was meant for women who had just “missed their chance.” That’s great. I see that her story will help comfort some women. But what about women who choose not to have kids? Where’s the supportive literature on that? Where are the people who are trying to fight societal norms and tell us all that it’s OK to not want kids?
One day on the couch I looked up at my boyfriend and said I felt like a terrible person because I didn’t want kids. His response: “I’m so sorry that society has made you feel that way.” And he’s right, yet I carry a tremendous amount of guilt for not wanting to have kids and I feel very alone in this situation.
I’ve watched two strong women who have played extremely influential roles in my life go through a tremendous amount of work to have children at ages that society would consider old for the process. I watched in vitro fertilization over and over and then an adoption process with countless requirements that went on for years, all while dutifully working to not have kids. All they wanted was to be pregnant and all I wanted was to not.
I’ve never wanted kids. I don’t have strong memories of playing with my baby dolls as though they were my kids. My favorite toy was my younger brother, not my son. At a young age I drew pictures of the children I would adopt and fantasized about each country I could adopt from and if I wanted a boy or girl from that culture.
I knew from the time I was about 18 that I didn’t find pregnancy beautiful. I don’t find the idea of someone living inside me to be a miracle of life. Everything about pregnancy makes me want to shut down. But it wasn’t until I was about 26 that I realized I was SUPPOSED to want kids. I’ve never found another woman who doesn’t want kids. My college-age students often look at me like a monster when I express that I have strong feelings about not wanting a baby. And I’m not sure my family even knows I don’t want kids. I’ve never brought it up with anyone for fear it disappoints them.
So what’s the conclusion to this? Is the primal instinct to reproduce just so strong that I’m one in a million? Does society push the non-breeders so much that they either give in or shut up?